A total of 28 states in the US have already legalized the use of cannabis, both for medical and recreational purposes. Some of these territories are major states such as New York and California, with the latter enacting the legalization of recreational use during the 2016 Elections in November.
But with legalization rightfully comes regulation. Recently, a couple of start-up companies are looking to develop marijuana Breathalyzers to aid law enforcement agencies in controlling the said substance to avoid any form of abuse.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or more commonly known as THC, is the substance in cannabis that gives off the psychoactive effect to get an individual high. According to this report, two start-up companies, namely Cannabix Technologies and Hound Labs are the ones that would help manufacture the marijuana Breathalyzer to help public officers deal with drivers who are possibly impaired due to cannabis use.
The two companies have begun to develop their own technology to measure small amounts of THC in a person. THC would be measured in the form of picograms or parts per trillion. According to Hound Lab’s Chief Marketing Officer Jenny Lynn, they were able to develop a working prototype that can already be used at the roadside. They were done with the help of the company’s scientists and engineers.
Cannabix Technologies, meanwhile, is looking to exploit the two-hour window wherein THC remains in one’s breath upon consumption. Within the given timeframe, the device would be able to assess how impaired an individual is. They will be making use of the latest technology powered by a microchip that will help enhance chemical separations and efficient ionization.
At the same time, users themselves would be able to determine their THC levels to notify them if they would be fit to go behind the wheel of a vehicle or enter their respective workplaces.
For ‘Easier Conviction’ After Arrests
The idea of developing a marijuana Breathalyzer was first brought up in late 2016, when law enforcement officers were clamoring for it to make their jobs fairly easier. According to a mid-November report, chemists from the University of California-Berkley were already developing some new chemistry to come up with a method of detecting marijuana-impaired drivers and giving a clear 4/20 definition .
Just like how it is done with alcohol, these chemists were trying to find a way to easily spot THC on a person’s breath, despite having police officers unaware about how to spot someone driving under the influence of cannabis. In turn, it becomes more complicated for them to determine such a case, and subsequently make the necessary apprehensions.
At the time, Hound Labs had already put out their very first prototype of their very own marijuana Breathalyzer, but has not made it public yet. They did, however, determine a starting price to be less than $1,000 per device. According to the CEO and co-founder Mike Lynn, it already had drawn “tremendous interest”, both from law enforcement officials and users.
An “arms race” to Development
Other than the marijuana Breathalyzer, there has been no proven method to quickly determine the THC levels in a person’s system. Which is why there was said to be a steep competition between companies that have decided to develop such a product.
Morrow adds that those who are developing such products are already beginning to fight tooth and nail to secure respective patents. But for proving which one would be the most effective, Morrow says it has yet to be backed up by scientific research.
The marijuana Breathalzyer is just one of the many developments that have sprouted out from the US-wide legalization of cannabis. Just like how Morrow pointed out, it can be anticipated for more enhancements similar to this one to come out in the succeeding years.
Just like how a good chunk of individuals chose to make a living on dispensaries and developing new cannabis strains, expect the number of people who would get into the regulation business to exponentially grow in the near future.