Will Marijuana Breathalyzers Soon Prevent Drugged Driving?

Keeping the roads safe

With recreational marijuana being legalized in Washington and Colorado, medical marijuana being legal in over 20 states and the District of Columbia, and various forms of marijuana legislation pending in areas such as Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, the risk of accidents resulting from driving under the influence of marijuana are likely to increase. In an effort to make the roads safer given the trend towards the outright adult-use of marijuana, tens of millions of drivers face the possibility of a Breathalyzer test specifically for weed in the coming years.

At present, methods used by law enforcement to detect drugged driving are seen to be exceedingly inaccurate indicators of whether or not a driver is impaired while operating a vehicle, as urine and blood tests may detect marijuana used several days prior to being tested. Though saliva tests are believed to be easier to use at a roadside stop and present more accurate results compared to other forms of testing, their results can still be deemed inaccurate since they can detect marijuana for up to 72 hours before the time of the DUI stop. Saliva tests also bring about issues with constitutional privacy rights since a suspect surrender a DNA sample in order to complete the test.

Reports state that Cannabix Technologies, Inc. a Canadian company formerly known as West Point Resources, is preparing to introduce the patent pending Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer – North America’s first Breathalyzer device that can detect Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The Cannabix Technologies founder, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, noticed the lack of available tools for law enforcement to keep the streets safe as marijuana legislation became more prevalent. Together with his team, the British Columbia RCMP veteran developed a device that can supposedly test and reveal the presence of THC in a DUI suspect’s lungs in the last two hours.

Law enforcement will have a much easier time administering this test roadside with the Breathalyzer, without having to violate any constitutional privacy rights. It will also be practical in other scenarios, such as drug testing in the workplace. The Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer tests for THC in a manner that is in line with the privacy rights and intoxication laws in both Canada and the United States, and could possibly be highly effective in terms of battling marijuana abuse and making the roadways and the workplace safer.

A bit closer to home, Lifeloc Technologies (the makers of standard breathalyzers that detect alcohol) has recently been given a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade amounting to $250,000 to create a device that accurately detects the amount of Delta-9 THC in an individual’s system. Delta-9 THC is the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. The THC-detecting tool will eventually be sold to law enforcement offices, workplaces, educational institutions, and corrections facilities.

While the improved accuracy and convenience provided by marijuana breathalyzers are likely to reduce a great number of false arrests and convictions for marijuana DUI, these tests will also be considered more conclusive evidence in a DUI case – making it more difficult for defendants to fight their charges with the argument that the THC use was days prior to their arrest.

Source: Police and Employers May Finally See Cannabis Breathalyzer, published on http://www.marketwatch.com