Marijuana Breathalyzer Test – Cannabix
A California company, Cannabix Technologies, Inc. has created the first marijuana breath analysis test, which has the potential to be used by police at the roadside to detect whether drivers have used the drug. Their mobile test is based upon high-field ion mobility and mass spectrometry. Testing using the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer Beta prototype device with human subjects after smoking THC cigarettes demonstrated the successful detection of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, in real-time. However, there remain significant obstacles before new technologies like these can be used for roadside or workplace testing in the U.S. Specifically, additional research will likely be needed to correlate data about consumption amounts with actual driver impairment. And the issue of stoned driving remains enormously complex, with experts still highly uncertain about marijuana’s precise effects on cognition and competence.
Up to one in 10 weekend nighttime drivers in the U.S. may have cannabis’s main active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in their bodies, studies suggest. Police in Colorado have said figures show marijuana-involved road fatalities doubling (pdf) in the state amid legalization. – SciAm
In May 2015, an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that there is a likely statistical association between illicit drug use, including marijuana, and workplace accidents. The impact marijuana use makes on transportation safety can be especially alarming. The drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time and impacts the perception of time and speed. Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found that marijuana negatively impacts driving performance, and other researchers have found that acute use of the drug increases the risk of crashes and fatal collisions.
The Cannabix website describes the company as “…working to develop drug-testing devices that will detect Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC- the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes intoxication) using breath samples. These devices would be used to provide detection of THC at roadside and identify drivers under the influence of marijuana. In particular, Cannabix is focused on developing breath testing devices for THC detection that would target recent use of THC, (within a 2 or 3 hour time period at time of testing) in contrast to saliva or urine testing for THC which can be invasive and take a considerable amount of time for laboratory analysis. The devices will also be useful for other practical applications such as testing employees in the workplace where intoxication by THC can be hazardous.”