A placebo-controlled study to assess Standardized Field Sobriety Tests performance during alcohol and cannabis intoxication in heavy cannabis users and accuracy of point of collection testing devices for detecting THC in oral fluid

W.M. Bosker*, E.L. Theunissen, S. Conen, K.P.C. Kuypers, W. K. Jeffery, H. C. Walls, G.F. Kauert, S.W. Toennes, M.R. Moeller, J.G. Ramaekers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Web of Science)


RATIONALE: Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and oral fluid devices are used to screen for driving impairment and roadside drug detection, respectively. SFST have been validated for alcohol, but their sensitivity to impairment induced by other drugs is relatively unknown. The sensitivity and specificity for Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of most oral fluid devices have been low. OBJECTIVE: This study assessed the effects of smoking cannabis with and without alcohol on SFST performance. Presence of THC in oral fluid was examined with two devices (Drager Drug Test(R) 5000 and Securetec Drugwipe(R) 5). METHODS: Twenty heavy cannabis users (15 males and 5 females; mean age, 24.3 years) participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessing percentage of impaired individuals on the SFST and the sensitivity of two oral fluid devices. Participants received alcohol doses or alcohol placebo in combination with 400 mug/kg body weight THC. We aimed to reach peak blood alcohol concentration values of 0.5 and 0.7 mg/mL. RESULTS: Cannabis was significantly related to performance on the one-leg stand (p = 0.037). Alcohol in combination with cannabis was significantly related to impairment on horizontal gaze nystagmus (p = 0.029). The Drager Drug Test(R) 5000 demonstrated a high sensitivity for THC, whereas the sensitivity of the Securetec Drugwipe(R) 5 was low. CONCLUSIONS: SFST were mildly sensitive to impairment from cannabis in heavy users. Lack of sensitivity might be attributed to tolerance and time of testing. SFST were sensitive to both doses of alcohol. The Drager Drug Test(R) 5000 appears to be a promising tool for detecting THC in oral fluid as far as correct THC detection is concerned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-446
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Cannabis
  • Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • THC
  • SFST
  • DUID
  • Oral fluid
  • Alcohol
  • Drug
  • Drug abuse
  • Cannabinoids

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