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Breathalyzer Test for Marijuana is in Development


In recent years, states have relaxed their regulations on the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. As marijuana legalization is becoming a reality, a major concern is people using cannabis products before driving. The concern arises not only because of the effects of any kind of intoxication on driving, but also because there has not been a way to test drivers for impairment caused by marijuana. The invention of the breathalyzer allows law enforcement to measure how drunk a person is as soon as they are pulled over, but existing tests for marijuana do not yield immediate results. Plus, cannabis can remain in the body for months, meaning whatever is detected could have been consumed at a time completely irrelevant to a driving incident.

Researchers are working to correct these issues by developing devices to detect marijuana impairment and its effect of driving ability. The latest development is a breathalyzer-like machine that is being pioneered by the University of Pittsburgh.

According to a report from NPR, “The device uses carbon nanotubes… to recognize the presence of THC, even when other substances are in the breath, such as alcohol. The THC molecule binds to the surface of the tubes, altering their electrical properties.”

The device can detect the level of THC currently in a person’s body similarly to how breathalyzers detect alcohol, and are essentially at a point where they can begin manufacturing. However, the marijuana detection device lacks a kind of “impairment ratio” that shows how the drug affects a person’s ability to drive. Whereas the law defines a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% as too intoxicated to be behind the wheel, a similar figure does not currently exist for cannabis. Quantifying impairment in this way could be the final step of development for these devices, along with increasingly relaxed federal regulations that would allow more extensive research using THC.

Impairment caused by the use of alcohol and drugs is one of the most frequent causes of car accidents. If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision, contact Belushin Law Firm, P.C. to discuss your case.

Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys via phone at (888) 918-9890, or by completing our contact form.
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