A company in California claims to have invented a marijuana breathalyzer test, according to MPR News.
This new invention comes just as police are becoming more and more concerned about road safety in the wake of the growing legalization of recreational marijuana, fearing that people driving while under the influence of marijuana will go largely undetected, endangering the lives of those around them.
The CEO of Hounds Lab, Mike Lynn, however, says he may have just created a solution by developing a marijuana breathalyzer. “We are trying to make the establishment of impairment around marijuana rational and to balance fairness and safety,” Lynn said.
Lynn’s pot breathalyzer is a disposable cartridge with plastic tubes sticking out of it that is able to detect the amount of THC in a person’s breath. According to Lynn, the breathalyzer can detect whether or not someone has smoked marijuana up to two hours before using the device. The results of the test are delivered in under four minutes.
“When you find THC in breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours,” he said. “And we don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.”
The device can also detect alcohol, so police would only need to carry around one multi-purpose breathalyzer.
While the device can detect the presence of THC on someone’s breath, it is unable to determine how much THC a person has actually consumed. Lynn explained that this is because police are concerned about people who might be presently impaired and are not interested in “somebody who smoked maybe yesterday or a few days ago and is not impaired.”
“They’re not in the business of arresting people that are not impaired when it comes to marijuana,” he continued. “That makes no sense at all.”
While there is still no agreed upon definition of the amount of THC that constitutes someone as impaired, any presence of the cannabinoid in a person’s breath renders them functionally impaired.
More research, however, is needed to be done on the long-term effects that THC consumption has on judgment and driving responses.
Columbia center epidemiologist Guahoa Li says that researchers have yet to determine “the dose-response relationship between THC level and crash risk.”
“There’s a widespread misconception that it’s OK and is safe to drive after smoking pot,” Li said. “And the public — especially teenage drivers — are not well aware of some of the hazards of drugs such as marijuana on driving.”