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Scientists Edge Closer to a Marijuana Breathalyzer

Recently published research has developed the concentration-effect relationship for THC in breath. While devices for on-the-spot measuring of THC in breath already exist, nobody knew exactly how much THC they needed to measure in order to determine if a person was stoned.

Regulators in Colorado set the arbitrary limit of five nanograms of THC per liter of blood as the amount that means you’re too stoned to drive. Both the medical and cannabis communities have denounced this number because it horribly misrepresents whether somebody is stoned or not. A frequent dabber could do dabs all morning and be perfectly sober after eating lunch, yet his or her blood levels of THC in one liter could be enough to tranquilize a small mammal.

Despite the fact they have rejected the idea of the arbitrary regulation of five nanograms per liter of blood, marijuana activists know deep down that law enforcement needs a breathalyzer-type device to detect stoned drivers, for their own sake. Without such a device police would undoubtedly have rely on their “keen instincts” to tell if someone is stoned, meaning any driver with pacifist bumper sticker or a Bob Marley shirt will be accused of stoned driving due to stoner profiling.

The latest research out of Ghent, Belgium developed a sampling method that can pick up aerosolized breath particles to measure THC. It only has a detection window for THC of three hours after smoking, meaning you pretty much have to be high to give a positive reading, but THC detection times can be up to 3 months, so it’s hardly objective. In addition, the device does not pick up THC’s metabolite, so somebody that smoking a lot before three hours about taking the test does not show positive, even if their body is teeming with THC metabolites.

More importantly, the researchers developed a concentration-effect relationship to determine how much THC in breath it took to determine if somebody was high by measuring pulse rate and pupil diameter. The idea is this concentration-effect relationship should hold true for novice and experienced smokers alike because it only looks at how much THC is circulating in the blood at any given time, not how much metabolite is stored in their fat cells.

Breathalyzers such as the one developed by Cannabix from Vancouver or the University of British Columbia may one day use this concentration-effect relationship to take more accurate readings of stoned drivers.

Other on-the-spot drug testing technologies use immunoassay tests that deliver pass/fail readings based on a predetermined limit of THC in bodily fluids. Smartox, the American marketer and distributor for the British company Intelligent Fingerprinting, uses a fingerprinting device to measure THC, or other substances, present in human sweat. Oxtox from England uses a saliva swap to measure THC in a handheld device, but they seemed to have sacrificed accuracy for simplicity and ease of use. Police in Europe use a similar device called DrugWipe to test for a variety of substances such as MDMA, methamphetamine, THC, LSD, benzodiazapines, cocaine in one go, but some reports say DrugWipe is only two-thirds effective.

So far none of these devices have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and will not see use by any authorities until they do. However, your employer doesn’t need FDA approval to put a device such as Intelligent Fingerprinting at the front door of your office, and unsuspecting workers may see themselves subject to inaccurate drug tests that violate their civil liberties and falsely accuse them of being high when they’re not.

Photo Credit: Askskipper.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mark McCombs

    July 12, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    How would this breathalyzer work with more medicinal strains with 1:1 or 2:1 CBD/THC ratios (or higher) where the patient does not get impaired (stoned) at all? Would that person pass a test after a half hour from consumption?

    • Avatar

      Patrick Borush

      July 18, 2016 at 11:34 am

      this is how its going to work… GO TO JAIL!, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT 200 DOLLARS! I had a friend who got pulled over for a seatbelt violation, they saw a open 30 pack on passenger seat. They made him blow at the station as no field test. He passed it with a .001. So they tore his truck up till they found something. They didn’t find anything but his prescription bottle for his pain medication for his broken tailbone. They charged him with DUI for taking his legal medication! Basically its all a cash grab and reach as per usual and they will dig and dig deep til they find any reason to lock you up and charge you bogus arbitrary fines that they will extort from you at literal gun point! It is time for the police and the our entire govt to be removed and reset to 0 per say. What we have now is facist and unjust and all about maintaining the status quo at the cost of the lower middle class and the poor in general! Time for those that are feeling the boot on thier necks to stand up for thier GD selves and take shit back by force! Voting obviously means nothing, this last primary cycle has shown that to all but the blindest cop sucking govt worshipper…

  2. Avatar

    TCG-Vadmin

    July 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    The research is bogus. There is absolutely ZERO relationship between thc content and “Inebriation” in people. Were you to suddenly give someone (with zero tolerance for cannabis) the level of thc flowing in my veins (just the THC) they would be extremely high. I’m not high, or stoned or even inebriated, the cannabis I’m using has a “Neutral” terpene profile. I can actually use as much as I need for focus, memory, pain control, mood control and more and not have a single moment of being stoned or high or inebriated.

    AAA just did a study with drivers and THC levels. Their findings? THC levels are absolutely no indication of “inebriation” and recommends officers use field sobriety tests for drivers, instead of THC blood tests that are meaningless.

    Hopefully they find something worthwhile to do with this technology, it’s definitely a waste for measuring ‘inebriation.’

    Keep it Clean!

  3. Avatar

    Patrick Borush

    July 18, 2016 at 11:27 am

    this is all so police can still profit off cannabis prohibition and keep the fines coming along with the steady supply of non violent compliant slaves for the pens (they call the pens prison today). This is more bad “science” and faulty testing bullshit from the prohibition industry! They see thier days are numbered with legalization, the only drug they can even half assed steadily detect is cannabis! Make it legal and you take away 80% of thier business model! Also going to cause a whole shit ton of rehabs and drug treatment facilities to either fire half thier staff or close altogether! Cannabis “addiction” is thier primary “diagnosis” that and “hallucinogen dependence” (was hit with that one once a few years back,. hadnt touch shrooms or acid in 7+ years at that point, 10 now, i’m “dependant” though)

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