A prospective technological breakthrough (marijuana breathalyzer) in analyzing both alcohol and marijuana levels of motorists has been developed by University of California chemists. This advancement could potentially enable police officers to no longer have to wait for lengthy tests which do not readily validate a driver’s impairment by marijuana.
The development of the tool was made by the UC chemists in collaboration with Hound Labs Inc., which will conduct clinical testing and trials next year. Although it has yet to receive formal approval, it is already being lauded by groups from safety advocates, law enforcement and drug reformers.
Current technology tests the level of alcohol and drug content of the body, but is unable to determine whether the drug was taken a month ago or more recently.
It can Detect not only Marijuana but also Alcohol
In contrast, the new device will be able to detect not only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind blowing substance in marijuana, but also alcohol making it an all in one measurement tool. One of the advantages of the new marijuana breathalyzer is that it has the ability to detect drivers who are under the influence of drugs. As a result the new tool has the potential to prevent the unjust imprisonment of motorists who have low THC levels in their blood but are still sound to safely drive.
The process of this breakthrough will be based on one to two puffs into the device. The inventors claim to detect THC levels within 500 picograms, which is one trillionth of a gram. The process combined with chemical engineering is able to significantly amplify the minuscule amounts of THC found on a marijuana user’s breath so that it is detectable and quantifiable by obtaining the driver’s breath sample, rather than the current blood-draw protocols.
Marijuana Breathalyzer to be released this 2016
The CEO is eyeing the third or fourth quarter of 2016 as the release date of the device so they can price levels for the devices can be fairly determined. Breathalyzers for law enforcement utilization will be priced at around $1000. On the other hand, versions for personal use will be priced much less.
Lynn chose to partner with the chemists in the University of California at Berkeley to defeat technical complications. He also considers the San Francisco campus ideal for implementing the mock testing on patients who are currently under medical marijuana treatment. The test targets to determine the accuracy of connection between machine reading and the level of drunkenness.
In contrast to Lynn’s high spirit, critics point out there can be no such device that will measure with precision as claimed.
Marijuana Breathalyzer can be bad news to MJ Dependents
The manager of marijuana law policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, Amanda Reiman, worries that if measurement like that is formalized, individuals who are drug dependent will not be able to drive anymore. They do not believe that marijuana can be measured the same way that alcohol is being measured. Kara Lynch a professor at UCSFseconded that the measurement tools of cannabis are not precise. She added that there is a very little scientific study on THC and breath.
One of the chemistry professors at the University of California at Berkeley, Matt Francis, has said that THC can be found in very minute concentrations on the breath of marijuana users. Thus, to be able to gauge the THC level in breath, a tag molecule is needed to heighten its signal. He further explained that THC’s properties are one million times more liquified than alcohol, which one can detect in a traditional alcohol and marijuana breathalyzer tool. This means that most chemical reactions will not happen at these low levels of concentrations, so it will be vague to determine if such a device will work on people who ingest marijuana in ways other than smoking it.
Nonetheless, a lot are looking forward to these roadside pot breathalyzers which will surely become a useful tool once testing is completed and early kinks are worked out.
The jury is still out on this technology. Currently, there is no instrument available to accurately measure a driver’s marijuana impairment. If you are charged with such an offense, don’t incriminate yourself. Instead, contact Cambareri & Brenneck, who offer free case consultations.