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Police Will Soon Be Using Cannabis Breathalyzers

· Oct 28, 2021
Within the 36 states where recreational or medical marijuana is deemed legal, law enforcement is working to determine how high these drivers are using unique weed-dedicated breathalyzers. Chris ...

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While states continue to loosen laws around cannabis, many are concerned that the next thing they’ll have to worry about is high drivers. Driving under the influence of both alcohol and weed is incredibly illegal and can result in jail time.

Within the 36 states where recreational or medical marijuana is deemed legal, law enforcement is working to determine how high these drivers are using unique weed-dedicated breathalyzers. Chris Halsor, a Colorado attorney with two decades of criminal law experience, runs the educational “green labs,” which aim to assist officers in making the correct decisions to decide how to charge a high driver depending on how much THC is in their system.

“You could absolutely have people under the influence of marijuana who had poor physical coordination, and you could also have people who were completely baked out of their minds and could ace them,” Halsor said, reported by Discover Magazine.

The next hot commodity for law enforcement is the up-and-coming breathalyzers that measure the user’s THC levels. Although officers can detect marijuana through urine tests and blood tests, these methods can take weeks or up to one month to determine results. The new breathalyzers offer the fastest detection window yet, determining results in up to 2-3 hours.

In terms of alcohol and driving, it’s easy to measure someone’s alcohol levels since humans are made of roughly 60% water. So water-soluble alcohol then disperses throughout the body and can disappear in hours. Ratios on breathalyzers help determine the amount of alcohol in someone’s system.

On the other hand, after eating an edible or sparking up, new breathalyzers can detect THC in the bloodstream that later makes its way over to the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, THC turns into non-psychoactive molecules called metabolites.

There are more than 80 different metabolites that THC can form, and they’re all stored in fat. What makes alcohol detecting different from THC is that these metabolites can linger throughout the body at different paces depending on the person’s body fat percentage, tolerance, gender, method of ingestion, and type of cannabis used.

Leading the way for marijuana breathalyzers is California-based company Hound Labs. CEO Mike Lynn published a press release saying that tests that detect metabolites rather than THC can help tell the difference between someone who “smoked cannabis legally and responsibly at a BBQ on Friday night, versus their colleague who smoked Monday morning on the way to work.”

The company’s Hound Marijuana Breathalyzer is said to be much more sensitive than an alcohol breathalyzer. The company expects to ship its product to law enforcement around the country by the end of 2021.