U.S. public transit organizations are urging the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to implement a system for utilizing saliva tests in drug screenings, specifically for cannabis and other substances. Advocates argue that this method is less invasive compared to traditional urine tests and provides a more accurate reflection of recent drug consumption, preventing individuals from facing consequences for substance use that occurred up to a month before testing.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently changed regulations to allow federally regulated transportation workers such as truckers, pilots and commercial drivers to employ oral fluid testing instead of urine drug testing. HHS has not yet certified saliva-screening laboratories or approved appropriate equipment for on-site saliva collection, despite the regulatory change.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently sent a letter to Xavier Becerra, the HHS secretary, urging the HHS to expedite the certification of testing labs. In a recent notice, HHS acknowledged the absence of certified laboratories capable of conducting drug-validity testing on oral-fluid specimens. According to APTA, the FDA, an arm of HHS, is also responsible for authorizing a minimum of one oral-fluid collection device to guarantee adherence to the DOT regulation concerning the oral-fluid testing system.
APTA, representing both private and public organizations employing about 430,000 individuals, outlined the advantages of oral-fluid drug testing. These include a less intrusive collection option that is gender neutral, eliminating the use of secured bathrooms. Additionally, saliva-based testing makes it possible to detect more recent drug use, which is important in situations involving post accident testing. The possibility of manipulation or intervention is also diminished by the transparency of the collection procedure.
The benefits were also underscored by the Albuquerque Transit Advisory Board, New Mexico, highlighting its gender-neutral collecting method and quicker identification of recent marijuana usage than urine testing.
In a recent meeting, the board urged the state’s congressional delegation to put pressure on HHS to approve at least two laboratories for oral-fluid testing. In addition, it requested that the city of Albuquerque amend its policy to incorporate oral testing and adhere to federal regulations mandating the use of oral fluid testing for direct observational testing of nonbinary and transgender staff members.
In a separate correspondence, the board urged Becerra to speed up the certification procedure for laboratories. The letter underlined how critical it is to solve the nation’s bus-driver crisis and allow agencies to hire and retain more mechanics and operators. It emphasized the necessity of striking a balance between safety concerns and the changing legal and societal context of drug usage.
With easily accessible certified labs that can accurately establish recent cannabis consumption, more people will be less hesitate to consume marijuana products from numerous companies such as Tilray Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) (TSX: TLRY) while off duty because they won’t be victimized under the mistaken belief that they were under the influence while at work when an accident occurred.
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