New technology aims to test for recent marijuana use | US-China …

Like the familiar breathalyzer used to test whether a driver is behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol, a similar hand-held device that tests for recent marijuana use is already being tested in Canada and the United States, including a small device being tested in California that uses a small sample of saliva to test for six drugs within minutes.

Up until very recently, there was no device that could tell if a person was “stoned” on pot or if they were using another drug. There are laboratory tests that require either urine or hair samples that can detect marijuana or other drugs being used, going back days or even weeks.

But there is no test that would tell an investigator if someone is using marijuana at any given moment. But, “the times, they are a-changing.” Last year at this time, Digital Journal reported on a Canadian startup, Cannabix Technologies. The company has developed a hand-held device calibrated to detect levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the breath.

Cannabix Technologies new breathalyzer. The Cannabix device would be used to help establish recent u...

Cannabix Technologies new breathalyzer. The Cannabix device would be used to help establish recent use/impairment at roadside.

Cannabix Technologies

Dr. Michael Lynn, the CEO of Hound Labs says the device they have created will also detect marijuana use using a breathalyzer device. Their device will also test for alcohol on the breath. Hound Labs plans on being ready for sales by the end of this year. “We tested on so many people now that we’re quite confident,” Dr. Lynn said.

What does the device actually measure?

Unlike an alcohol breathalyzer device that measures the amount of alcohol in the blood to determine the level of impairment, a marijuana breathalyzer will only indicate a “yes or No” for the presence of THC. Professor Mina Hoorfar, who is an engineer by background and the developer of the Cannabix breathalyzer in Canada, says, that because the THC molecule is so large, “there is a period of 12 hours after you have consumed THC when it can still be detected in your breath.”

Hound Labs is developing a breathalyzer for marijuana and alcohol that could hit the market later th...

Hound Labs is developing a breathalyzer for marijuana and alcohol that could hit the market later this year.

Hound Labs

Bob Griffiths, a retired officer and the director of police standards and training for the Alaska Department of Public Safety says the breathalyzer device is showing promise of being reliable, unlike the saliva testing device they tried out. However, it still needs to be tested by the police and get approval from the court system to be used as evidence.

“I’ve arrested people who had zero-zero alcohol but they could barely stand up,” he said. “I would say that recreational marijuana, whether legal or not, has always been a problem with impairment with drivers in Alaska.”

Some employers have shown interest in the devices, that will probably sell for around $800 to $1500 a piece, Some jobs require a clear mind and nimble reflexes that can be impaired when under the influence of any kind of drug, whether it is alcohol or marijuana.

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