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Marijuana Breathalyzer: Is It The Next Roadside Tool for DWI Arrests?

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A new marijuana breathalyzer has been tested and could be put to use for drivers who are suspected to have smoked weed.  A marijuana breathalyzer was tested and proven to be able decipher the increments of the main component in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC.  It was discovered to only be traceable up to an approximate two hour window after marijuana was smoked.  Officials say that the studies of this new breathalyzer appear so efficient that it may be practical for use in the field.

Marijuana Breathalyzer On The Road

With a significant amount of night drivers having been recorded as positive for having marijuana in their system, it became relevant that there was a great problem with people driving while influenced.  Right now, if officials suspect that someone is driving while under the influence, they have to bring them to a safe medical environment to have their blood drawn in order to be tested.  By the time the alleged perpetrator’s blood is taken, the THC levels may have decreased from the time they were driving their vehicle, not to mention the extra costs for the tests.

More Testing Needed

Dr. Huestis, Ph.D., Senior Investigator at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), has stated that there are two types of categories because the amount of the marijuana that gets transported into the body differs by how each person inhales, exhales, and waits between the next hit.  Another aspect to consider is that an occasional smoker will most likely have a low tolerance for the drug and become affect more easily than the regular marijuana smoker, which would ultimately need to be taken into account when a breathalyzer is concerned.  Dr. Huestis confirmed, “The next step will be to find instrumentation that can be used at the roadside.”  In addition to this new breathalyzer, research is pending on whether there may be a way to detect other drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, in a person’s system by breathing into a portable apparatus.

However, after much testing, it was clearly and concisely shown that the marijuana breathalyzer was reliable in deciphering whether a person had smoked marijuana within the past two hours. More research is being done in hopes to achieve at least a six hour window after last use.  The next step for pushing the marijuana breathalyzer further towards road testing is to figure out the appropriate level of THC that would constitute as driving while influenced.  There is a need for more studies to be done on the driving of willing participants who have smoked marijuana beforehand.  Testing their breath for certain THC levels and pinpointing at which levels their driving would be considered a threat to the rest of society on the road will help create a guideline for this new tool.  This will help determine the difference between regular and less frequent marijuana users.


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