A California company has created the first marijuana breath analysis test, which it says, has the potential to be used by police to detect whether drivers have used the drug. According to a report on Newsweek.com, law enforcement officials have grown increasingly concerned about those driving while under the influence of marijuana as more and more states including California have been legalizing the drug. Until now, police officers in the United States did not have any way to detect THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in drivers’ systems during DUI investigations.
How the Device Works
Law enforcement officials have mostly depended on field sobriety tests to catch alcohol use. They’ve also used personal observations. Both of these methods could be flawed. However, the Oakland-based Hound Labs has come up with a device much like the Breathalyzer to make testing for marijuana as easy as testing for alcohol.
The device is essentially a disposable cartridge, which could detect marijuana use within the past two hours, which may experts say is the peak time for the full effects of THC to kick in. When you find THC in someone’s breath, the probability is extremely high that the individual being tested smoked marijuana in the last couple of hours.
The Challenges with Marijuana
So far, nine states including California have legalized recreational marijuana. Cannabis for medicinal use has been approved in 31 states. A dozen other states allow its use for specific medical conditions. A number of other states are putting the issue on the ballot in upcoming elections. So, driving under the influence of marijuana is becoming a more pressing concern for law enforcement officials across the country.
In Canada, the government is planning to provide police with roadside saliva tests to detect marijuana. This device is still awaiting final approval from that country’s Justice Department. Once in use, officers will simply be able to swab the driver’s mouth to test for THC in their saliva. States where marijuana has been legal for a few years, like Colorado, have seen sharp increases in fatal DUI crashes involving marijuana. But, industry analysts say that such data is inaccurate as it relies on blood tests to detect THC. The problem with THC is that it can remain detectable in the blood stream for days or weeks.
While using marijuana recreationally is legal in California, it is still illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana – just like it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. Drivers who do so, in addition to facing criminal charges, could also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses sustained by victims. Our California personal injury lawyers hope this Breathalyzer device serves as a tool for law enforcement to remove dangerous and impaired drivers off our roadways.