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Hair follicle marijuana tests susceptible to false positives

According to a new study, hair follicle marijuana tests may be unreliable because they are susceptible to false positives through secondhand contact. Drug tests are sometimes required in child custody cases by courts in New Jersey and across the United States.

Researchers at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Freiburg, Germany, found that cannabis residue can be transferred to non-consuming individuals through the hands, sebum and sweat of marijuana users. It can also be transferred through secondhand smoke. Cannabis is the top illicit drug worldwide. It is estimated that 135 to 227 million people use marijuana around the world.

Employers often require potential employees to submit to drug tests. Family courts also frequently require parents seeking child custody to submit to drug testing. These tests typically use urine, sweat, saliva or hair to detect the presence of drugs in a person's system. Although hair tests are very common in Europe, urine tests are most often used in the United States.

According to legal experts, a false positive drug test could have devastating consequences for a parent. They could lose all custody rights to their child or be subjected to court-supervised visits. Meanwhile, a false positive at work could cause a parent to lose an employment opportunity, be fired or lose certain health and death benefits, which could have tremendous financial consequences for their family.

Child custody disputes can be emotional and time-consuming. A parent who has been accused of drug use by the other parent may want the assistance of a family law attorney in demonstrating to the court that obtaining or retaining custody or visitation would be in the child's best interests.

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