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Police Could Start Using a Roadside Breathalyzer for Marijuana

Marijuana Breathalyzer

Colorado passed a THC driving bill in 2013 which says that more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood constitutes marijuana intoxication. Detecting marijuana intoxication has only been possible via blood testing, but that may soon change. Marijuana reacts differently within each user, making a roadside breathalyzer a controversial topic of discussion.

Hound Labs is in the developmental stages of a roadside marijuana breathalyzer to detect marijuana intoxication. According to Westword, Hound Labs has used enhanced technology and science to develop a device that measures THC levels in as little as one to two breaths.  The device uses an extraction method to measure levels of THC intoxication to levels as low as 500 picograms.

Hound Labs claims that, “No hand-held device has been able to measure the actual levels of THC, which is critical to developing standards for breath that ultimately correlate with impairment.”

Standards regarding THC intoxication have not yet been developed. Blood testing only tells law enforcement that someone has used marijuana, not how long ago they used it; marijuana can stay in blood for up to three weeks. The breathalyzer claims to be able to detect THC in a person’s breath, which is detectable for a few hours after use.

Controversy lies among the general public and law enforcement officials in regards to the accuracy of the device’s results. One expert, a professor at Columbia University, Carl Hart, calls the entire concept a “dumb idea.”