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Marijuana spilling out of prescription bottle

Source: Jana Leon / Getty

Roadside breathalyzer tests are typically used to help the fight against drunk drivers. Now, breathalyzer tests that can detect if drivers have smoked marijuana will be available by next year.

Earlier this year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published the results of a survey which indicated that nearly 15 million Americans had gotten behind the wheel of a car within an hour after smoking marijuana or using cannabis-related products within the past 30 days. 

Firms such as California-based “Hound Labs” and Canadian company “SannTek” are hoping to have working products ready by the second half of 2020. 

The device that’s currently being developed by both companies are designed to look for evidence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the body. This substance is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. The device is to detect if you have smoked within the last three hours. 

The devices are expected to fill a gap in the market as marijuana is increasingly legalized for medicinal and recreational use across the country.

Law enforcement agencies must currently go through a time-consuming and expensive process to determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana specifically. Often relying on Drug Recognition Officers (DROs) who are specially trained to spot the types of impairment caused by different drugs.

The new devices have the potential to streamline this process, as the companies say, by cutting down on costs and police time. 

Furthermore, the field tests will make it easier to convict those who have driven under the influence of marijuana, while also helping defense attorneys prove that their clients were innocent in cases where the suspect hadn’t used the drug before getting behind the wheel.

While the technology is extremely promising to law enforcement, the agencies have not yet come out in support of the marijuana breathalyzer tests.

Both companies claim employers in certain industries could also use the devices to ensure that workers are not under the influence while at work or endangering themselves by operating heavy machinery while high. 

Noah Debrincat, a nanotechnology engineer from SannTek, said that his company’s device, which can also detect whether someone has used marijuana in the last three hours, could beneficial to both employers and employees.

“I actually do see it as benefiting all parties,” he told the Sacramento Bee. In fact, according to the publication, most tests currently used by employers reveal marijuana use stretching back as far as 30 days, which could penalized workers in some cases even if they are not high on the job. 

Source: Baller Alert