5 Panel Drug Tests vs. 12 Panel: What Are The Differences and Which Do You Need?
5 Panel Drug Tests vs. 12 Panel: What Are The Differences and Which Do You Need?

5 Panel Drug Tests vs. 12 Panel: What Are The Differences and Which Do You Need?

Blog and Opinions Red Slashes Mar 2, 2022
By: Kendra Lawrysyn

With the safety and wellbeing of employees in the workplace at the forefront of employer’s minds, it is no surprise that we continue to see an increase in organization’s pre-employment practices and Fit for Duty programs. Whether this testing involves Drug and Alcohol Testing, Functional Fitness Evaluations, or Occupational Health Testing, CannAmm continues to see a rise in both the requirements and questions around what the best practices are.

The most frequent questions center around Drug and Alcohol Testing. Drug and alcohol testing mitigates the risk of injury and potential property damage in the workplace. Not only does this ensure that each of an organization’s employees are fit for duty, but that a strong safety culture has been established. The goal of any testing program is to have trusted, defensible results; but, what are the right drug and alcohol tests for your testing program?

More often, 12 panel and 5 panel drug tests are utilized to provide defensible results for both employees and employers in Canada. One of the most common questions that companies have is what is the difference between a 12 panel drug test and a 5 panel drug test. This is closely followed by which type of panel test should your company be requesting.

The main differentiating point between 12 panel and 5 panel drug tests is the substances which they test for. The majority of organizations in Canada will request a 5 panel drug test from urine or saliva. However, 12-Panel drug testing can have useful applications for certain safety sensitive positions as it provides additional screening for safety risks associated with medical drugs. Please see the following list of the illicit substances that each panel tests for respectively.


  • THC (Cannabis metabolite)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Methamphetamines / amphetamines


  • THC (Cannabis metabolite)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Amphetamines
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • OXY (Oxycodone)
  • Propoxyphene
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine

Additional differences between a 12 panel and a 5 panel drug test can be seen in the cost per test, the return on investment that your company will receive resulting from the investment in each test, and the potential need for additional medical officer review causing differentiating turnaround times.

Overall, companies evaluating which panel testing to select for their program should be aware of the safety implications, operational impact and risks associated with the practice. Whichever panel drug test that a company selects must ensure that it complies with any organization and regulatory requirements, and that it is clearly established in their policy which substances they will be testing for.

If you are looking for additional information on this subject manner, please feel free to reach out to one of our experts at CannAmm. We would be happy to go over any additional points with you, help you determine which tests should be implemented into your company’s policies, and book your employees for their required testing. Contact us today!

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