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First Marijuana Breathalyzer Created by California Company

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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. 

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind, I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

2 Comments

  1. Ben James

    August 6, 2018 at 11:04 am

    2016 : During a congressional hearing on the threat posed by cannabis intoxicated drivers, representative Jeff Michael of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was asked “How many fatal crashes are caused by marijuana each year?”. “That’s difficult to say,” replied Jeff Michael, “We don’t have a precise estimate.” The most he was willing to say was that the number is “probably not” zero. You can be absolutely sure if Jeff Michael had bad news about cannabis he would have been happy to to present it. If you take the spin off it what Jeff Michael of the NHTSA is saying, the translation comes out, “there are not enough fatal accidents related to cannabis to provide quantifiable data”.

    If you go further in your thinking it’s clear the reason for the lack of data is because cannabis is safe by comparison to alcohol and pharmaceuticals which are easily quantifiable because of the massive numbers of victims killed. All drivers at fault in fatal auto accidents are required to submit to a full tox screen by law. The data from these tox screens shows that drunk drivers kill over 16,000 people per year in the United States. Drivers intoxicated on pharmaceutical drugs kill over 5,000 people in the US per year.

    Not one single law enforcement agency even keeps statistics on fatal accidents caused by “solely” cannabis intoxication. I have searched high and low, talked to law enforcement across the board and get the same answer from every agency. They can show cases by the thousands where alcohol or pharmaceuticals were the direct cause of traffic fatalities but have no data whatsoever on traffic fatalities caused solely by cannabis intoxication. When cornered police officials hem and haw about cannabis probabilities, but when asked to show statistics on fatalities solely caused by cannabis intoxication it’s always the same answer “there is currently no data available.”

    Legalize, regulate and TAX recreational cannabis!

  2. massvocals

    August 7, 2018 at 11:14 am

    This test is one fat lie, Cannabis has known elements THC-delta 9 which gets you stone, THC-COOH, THC-CH THC-OH all known elements in cannabis would not amount to any science for the courtroom in law. This Breathalyzer test relies on the same non-active ingredients as employment testing, YOU cannot test for THC delta 9 by a breathalyzer. EVER The comment that if the test is positive you can bet person just smoke pot within two hours says a lot there is no facts here

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