A few years back, we talked about our hesitation on the introduction of a marijuana breathalyzer in California. This was about three years ago, and since then, more researchers have continued exploration into the product.
With recreational marijuana use being legal in California, we have probably all heard about how THC stays in the bloodstream for days or even months after it has been consumed. As the psychoactive component in marijuana, THC is the substance responsible for making people feel high. The proposed device created by Hound Labs isolates THC from the breath sample and then analyzes its concentration. Oddly enough, THC makes its way into a person’s bloodstream and then comes back out through the breath to some extent.
Current studies found that the THC high reaches a peak around 15 minutes after marijuana has been consumed. Then, it typically appears on one’s breath within two to three hours. With the assistance of UCSF, Hound Lab presented research on THC levels, finding that there is a great risk of impairment from THC in the first two to three hours. As such, they have been trying to understand how this impairment affects people’s abilities and coordination.
Recently, Hound Labs secured $30 million in funding to move forward with their product designs and move into the manufacturing phase. They plan to send out the new gadgets to several law enforcement agencies across California by the end of the year.
Like we expressed before, we have reservations about THC presence alone being used as an accurate indicator of impairment like alcohol. Despite the progress that has been made with BAC measurements, there is still a lot that needs to be improved on that front. If we haven’t ensured high accuracy with BAC indicators, how does the risk of THC impairment compare to the numbers we have for BAC?
Of course, we want to reduce the risk of danger to the public in any way that we can. Safety is of the utmost priority. But, to arrest a person for having smoked a joint 3 hours ago and on that fact alone? That seems to go too far. We already know that field sobriety tests aren’t always accurate or objective either, so it doesn’t seem fair to arrest someone based on how recently they consumed marijuana.