Marijuana is now legal, for medical use, in over thirty one American states. It can be used recreationally in nine. The authorities who recently changed their laws to accommodate cannabis, have always emphasized their concern over public health, criminal injustice, and state revenue among the many other, conflicting, relevant issues.
One primary concern, the inability of the police officials to accurately and fairly test drivers for marijuana, use was an issue which was never fully addressed by legalization. Multiple studies, as reported by The Washington Post have already been conducted in the 6 years since Colorado legalized recreational pot and the results appear to be consistent: The legalization process for cannabis results in a small (in the region of 3%) increase in mostly non-fatal car accidents, per year.
However, it appears that now, things are on the verge of changing forever. California based Hound Labs has developed a new product that allows the authorities to test vehicle drivers for intoxicating levels of marijuana.
The marijuana Breathalyzer works in a similar fashion to the existing alcohol breathalyser testing machines. Drivers, when stopped and asked to by a police officer, breath into an specially calibrated device, allowing police officials to determine the THC levels in their breath. The process operates much the same as drink driving testing does now, adding the benefit of familiarity to the solution for both officers and citizens.
How reliable is it?
The company claims their marijuana Breathalyzer to be around one billion times more accurate then the alcohol testers available today.
For the uninitiated, THC is the psychoactive ingredient that leaves the marijuana consumer ‘high’. This breathalyser can measure the THC dose the user is experiencing a the time they blow. That’s a non-trivial change from the system that is in place now.
With the new cannabis breathalyser, not only will the police be able to determine if the drivers have smoked marijuana in the last few days – the limits of the current capability the police have available to them.
With the breathalyser, they will also be find out how recently (measured in hours) an individual consumed cannabis. Obviously, that’s the primary concern for law enforcement confronted with a potentially intoxicated driver.
The new tool is particularly helpful to Law Enforcement, since the current techniques require either blood or urine samples which are considered unfair to administer by the roadside.
What tests does it have to pass?
The new breathalyzer product aims to fill the gaps and make the marijuana test fair for drivers. The company believes that the THC is present in the driver’s breath only during the peak window of impairment. within one or two hours of smoking marijuana.
Interestingly, the company’s findings and recommendations as to legislation which should support its implementation show that THC levels drop down to zero after three hours of marijuana consumption.
When will it be available?
The Hound Labs Marijuana Breathalyzer is expected to hit the market this fall sometime in September. The device will simultaneously function as an alcohol breathalyzer. Therefore, there is a good chance that even Police Officials from other states where Marijuana is illegal will use them as existing devices are upgraded.
How much does the machine cost?
The product is being tested extensively on a large population and will be launched later this year. The company CEO, Dr. Michael Lynn believes they will be able to price it competitively at somewhere around the $500-$800 mark. The initial plan is to sell it to Police Departments and other law enforcement officials.
With more and more states legalizing marijuana consumption, it is important to have marijuana breathalyzers in place. According to a survey, almost 8.6% drivers tested positive for THC in 2007. This number gradually increased to 12.6% in 2014.
With the Hound Labs Marijuana Breathalyzer, Police Officials will never have to touch oral fluid, blood or urine. They will have the results in a matter of minutes and can even print the results to attach with the ticket.
Whether this particular tool lives up to the claims it’s manufacturers make remains to be seen. It seems the problem will be solved in some fashion, in any case.
Author Bio: Neil Aitken is CEO of Cannabis Express a website dedicated to providing the facts and information Australians need to decide how to vote on the subject of whether Australia should legalize recreational cannabis for personal use.