Drug Testing Terminology

Listed below is a glossary of terms appropriate to drug testing

Cannabinoids - A family of compounds, some of which are psychoactive, found in the common hemp plant, or Cannabis sativa. Most of the pharmacological effects are produced by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. In urine drug testing, the prior use of marijuana is established by the detection of metabolites of cannabinoids. These metabolites are generally inactive, but are often present in significant quantities. The most abundant metabolite is 11-nor-delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid, sometimes referred to as 9-carboxy-THC. Most immunoassays and confirmation procedures are directed toward this metabolite.

Confirmation - The process of using a second analytical procedure to verify the presence of a specific drug or metabolite, which is independent of the initial test and which uses a different technique and chemical principle from that of the initial test to ensure reliability and accuracy.

Cross Reactivity - The degree to which an antibody interacts with antigens other than the one used to produce the antibody. This is a property of nearly all naturally derived antibodies.

Cutoff - The concentration of a target drug in a specimen at or above which the test is called positive and below which it is called negative.

False Negative - A test result which states that no drug is present when, in fact, a tested drug or metabolite is present in an amount greater than the threshold or cutoff amount.

False Positive - A test result which states that a drug or metabolite is present when, in fact, the drug or metabolite is not present, or is present in an amount greater than the threshold or cutoff value.

GC/ MS - An abbreviation for the instrumental technique which couples the powerful separation potential of Gas Chromatography with the specific characterization ability of Mass Spectroscopy.

Mass Spectrometry - Analysis using an analytical instrument that provides accurate information about the molecular mass and structure of complex molecules. This technique can identify extremely small amounts of drugs or metabolites by their mass-fragmented spectrum.

Metabolite - Drug breakdown products.

Passive Inhalation - The exposure of non-smoking subjects, through inhalation, to side-stream smoke from active smokers, thereby raising the possibility that a non-user of marijuana may test positive for metabolites of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Screening Test - The initial test used to identify those specimens which are negative or positive for the presence of drugs or their metabolites. Negative specimens need no further examination and need not undergo confirmation testing.