First Marijuana Breathalyzer Created by California Company
The first marijuana breathalyzer is finally here, thanks to a California company who says it has created it with the intention to sell to law enforcement in hopes of catching drivers who may be under the influence of cannabis. As more states begin to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, new problems arises of individuals driving while high.
Before this device, there was no concrete way for law enforcement to ascertain if an individual really was under the influence of marijuana. Officers would mainly depend upon field sobriety tests or personal observation, the latter of which is highly subjective and does not hold up in court. Knowing this, Oakland -based Hound Labs set out to develop a device that would make it just as easy for police officers to test for marijuana, similarly to alcohol breathalyzer tests.
NPR spoke to CEO Mike Lynn, who explained that his company’s device accomplishes this testing using a breath test that detects the presence of THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. He stated, “We are trying to make the establishment of impairment around marijuana rational and to balance fairness and safety.”
“This is a disposable cartridge. And there’s a whole bunch of science in this cartridge,” Lynn explained to NPR, as he showcased the device to reporters. Lynn says the device can detect THC in the breath within the past two hours. Lynn adds, “When you find THC in breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours.” He continued, “And we don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.”
Marijuana legalization is steadily sweeping through the country, with nine states legalizing it for recreational purposes, with a further 31 states have legalizing it for medicinal purposes. This has resulted in bolstered renewal over the concern of drivers under the influence of marijuana.
The number of marijuana-related car accidents is heavily disputed, with two recent studies coming to opposite conclusions. The first, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, found that the number of car accidents has increased in states that had recently legalized marijuana after comparing insurance claims to states without legalization.
The other study, published by the American Journal of Public Health, found no increase in vehicle crash fatalities in states who had legalized marijuana after analyzing data from 2009 to 2015. The authors state, “We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates in the first 3 years after recreational marijuana legalization.”
Despite the conflicting findings, it is still becoming an increasingly growing concern among law enforcement and drivers who wish to be safe on the road.