As more states continue to legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, a company has created a device they believe may help police who are concerned about marijuana usage in drivers. The California Marijuana Breath Test Device is a new breath test designed to detect the presence of THC, and it may allow law enforcement to test for marijuana as easily as they do for alcohol.
California Marijuana Test Device: What Is It?
Oakland-based Hound Labs designed the breath test. In an interview with NPR, CEO and founder of Hound Labs said that Hound Labs’s goal was to create a device that allowed a balance of fairness and safety when it came to the usage of marijuana. Lynn says the disposable cartridge has science backing it, and that it detects the use of marijuana within a two-hour period. This is a critical time, Lynn says, in that experts believe this is a peak time for the full effects of THC in a human body to happen.
When the California Marijuana Test Device detects the presence of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Lynn says that one can be reasonably confident there has been marijuana usage in the previous few hours. This detection ability would mean that law enforcement could help keep drivers off the road when high, and no longer would have to depend solely on field-sobriety tests and observation.
How Dependable Is The Accuracy?
Though nine states allow recreational use of marijuana and another 31 approve medical marijuana usage, not everyone believes the Marijuana Test Device is necessarily a great tool for law enforcement. Taylor West is the former deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association and said that the difference between a breath test for alcohol and one for THC is that THC can stay in a person’s bloodstream for days or even weeks, but that doesn’t mean a driver’s impairment lasts that long.
West says that all the Marijuana Test Device might accurately show is that at some point, a person who tests positive for THC may have legally consumed a product within a days/weeks’ period and still be entirely competent for drive and function in daily life.
Lynn says that the goal is to give law enforcement objective and tangible data roadside. The test takes approximately four minutes to bring results back. Additionally, it serves as a breathalyzer for alcohol consumption, making it easy-to-use for either situation a police officer might encounter. Lynn says that while he recognizes that THC dissolves in fat and can stay stored in one’s body for nearly a month, his company has looked at those technical issues and accommodated them. He says that the Marijuana Test Device measures THC in breath molecules in parts per trillion, which means that to find a trace in one’s breath would give reasonably valid results. It was not designed to measure the amount of THC consumed, merely the presence in one’s breath, and when it comes to safe driving, that can make all the difference.
And as for accuracy? Lynn suggests that police are simply looking for potentially impaired drivers, not users who may have had something three weeks ago. The device will give them roadside data to support them when they believe someone is at risk.