Synthetic marijuana and its implementation into workplace drug testing/screening

LaneWorkSafe Pty Ltd
Tuesday, 09 December, 2014

The last 12 months have seen an increase in drug and alcohol testing in the workplace across Australia, which has been largely driven by employer concerns about alcohol- and drug-related risk to workplace safety and productivity - according to LaneWorkSafe, an Australian-owned company and supplier of policy, programs and on-site testing devices.

OHS professionals play a key role in the development and implementation of any workplace drug and alcohol program. To ensure the program is carried out effectively, it is important that workplaces stay up to date with industry trends. One of these industry trends has been the increased prevalence of synthetic marijuana - also known as spice, kronic and K2.

Producing a similar or mimic-type effect to the use of marijuana, it is now reportedly considered a dangerous product and responsible for serious psychosis with potential for prolonged effects.

What are synthetic cannabinoids?

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre explains: “Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured chemicals that are designed to activate the same chemical systems in the brain as the main active ingredient in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

Some of the reported negative effects associated with use include the following:

  • dry mouth
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • agitation and aggression
  • high blood pressure/heart rate and chest pains
  • relapse of psychotic disorders

“Synthetic marijuana is certainly an interesting substance to look at due to the fact that it is so underdetermined. While it may be similar to marijuana in its mimic-like effects, it is very different in composition and make-up. It is known that manufacturers of this banned substance continually change and alter the contents, making it difficult for on-site drug screening devices to test for this substance,” says Kara Lane, the national sales manager of LaneWorkSafe.

While considered a banned substance, synthetic marijuana is not listed in Australian Standards AS4308:2008 like marijuana, opiates, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine and benzodiazepines. LaneWorkSafe is one of the only companies in Australia to have introduced an on-site device that can accurately detect for this substance in the workplace.

According to the company, a tester simply places the Synthetic Cannabis Test in a urine specimen for 30 seconds and waits 5-6 minutes for a result. Lane says: “This device is sophisticated enough to look for the two main ingredients in the substance - JWH 018 and JWH 073 - making it one of the most accurate devices on the market. It provides a simple and reliable solution to the detection of synthetic marijuana in Australian workplaces.”

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