A new pot breathalyzer is coming after you, being able to detect if you have smoked marijuana in the last few hours.
Since both medical and also recreational marijuana consumption is becoming more and more legal in different states, driving under the influence is also becoming more and more common.
Hound Labs, a company based in Oakland, together with a team of researcher from the University of California at Berkeley is working on developing an instant pot breathalyzer that can test drivers on the road. The device will actually be designed to serve a double purpose, measuring both alcohol and THC levels in divers’ breath.
This new product will make it easier for law enforcers to get the drivers who had smoked pot before hopping behind the wheel. It will replace the more costly and more complicated methods of testing used in the present – a combination of blood, urine and saliva testing. More than that, these tests are highly irrelevant since they can’t say if the driver has smoked marijuana two hours or two weeks ago.
However, the new marijuana breathalyzer is already under dispute since states can’t seem to reach a conclusion regarding the levels of THC above which it’s illegal to drive. The NHTSA (the administration of national highway traffic safety) says that although it’s known that THC impairs cognitive function and psychomotor skills, it’s not known how much of it is needed to affect the driving abilities.
Pennsylvania set the limit at 1 nanogram/milliliter (ng/mL) while Washington and Montana have both imposed the limitation at 5 ng/mL. But these limits are totally arbitrary, as the Chief Executive of Hound Labs argues. Therefore, the discussion at national level has to shift from the simple detection of THC to the actual levels of the substance that could affect driving performance.
Hound Labs, a startup founded last year is planning to get their marijuana breathalyzers on the market by the end of next year if the clinical trials go well. They aim for a price of about $1,000, just as an average alcohol breathalyzer.
However, if they want to be the first out there they should hurry up. Other teams of researchers from Washington, from Colorado and even from Vancouver are already working at their own pot breathalyzers, aiming to get on the market as soon as possible.
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