Although California legalized recreational marijuana for adults over 21, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of the drug. Unless a police officer actually smells marijuana in the vehicle, this can present a conundrum. Many police officers are trained to recognize the symptoms of marijuana intoxication. However, by the time they are able to test for the presence of the drug, it can be out of the blood system. Another problem is that marijuana can be present in the urine for weeks and sometimes months after the last time it was ingested. However, some companies are trying to come up with a solution in the form of a breathalyzer for marijuana, as CBS Local San Francisco reports.
The breathalyzer that tests for alcohol has existed since 1954. Yet, no similar such test exists currently for cannabis. Several companies say that they are close to having the technology that can detect the presence of THC in a person’s breath, where the cannabinoid can linger for about 2 to 3 hours.
California-based Hound Labs is one of these companies. They are developing a handheld device that acts like a mass spectrometer that can detect the presence of THC. However, it doesn’t measure intoxication levels, just the presence of the compound.
The problem with testing drivers for cannabis is that the drug can affect different people in differing ways. It can also affect people differently depending on the method of consumption. People can consume a small amount of marijuana and not be physically affected to the point that it impairs driving but will still show positive on a test.
This can prove an issue for any community where marijuana is legalized, whether for recreational or medical purposes.