You’ve been hearing me say it for quite a while: Marijuana breathalyzers are coming soon. And it seems as though they’ve arrived.
Police officers in California teamed up with Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs, which developed a marijuana breathalyzer that, not only tests whether a person has recently smoked, but can tell the officers what a person’s THC level is.
With marijuana breathalyzers in tow, officers requested a voluntary breath sample of people who had been observed driving erratically. Only people who were also drunk were arrested. Those of whom had either admitted to recently smoking marijuana or who tested positive for THC were provided safe rides home.
According to Lynn, the handheld device isolates the THC from the breath sample through a disposable cartridge and analyzes it. Following the analysis, the results are displayed on a screen.
“You smoke it, it goes into your lungs, into the blood, and for lack of a better term, comes back around and is exhaled in the breath,” said Lynn. “We’re measuring actual THC from the blood stream.”
Because the device measures the THC from the bloodstream, the breathalyzer can also detect THC consumed through marijuana edibles.
While it looks as though marijuana breathalyzers are on cusp of widespread use, the same oversight that I’ve complained about before remains. THC is not an accurate indicator of impairment. A person can have smoke a day, week, or month ago and yet still test positive for THC. Does that mean that they are unfit to operate a vehicle? No.
So until we can test actual impairment of marijuana, it seems to me as though current marijuana breathalyzers are valueless.