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A Breathalyzer for marijuana may be coming soon

Police officers in California are testing a new piece of technology from Hound Labs that measures THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. A smattering of devices tried to deliver on this promise before. However, this latest Breathalyzer appears to be the most promising. The device can measure THC in parts per trillion, therefore, it is significantly more sensitive than similar competitors.

The initial field tests paired the devices with officers who pulled erratic drivers over and asked them to blow into the device voluntarily. The pulled over drivers were not charged with drunk driving, unless they happened to be drunk, which one driver was. In fact, some of the drivers admitted to smoking weed in the past few hours of driving. Anyone who tested positive for THC was given a ride home by the police.

One of the persistent problems in designing THC Breathalyzers is that no one knows how much THC it takes to render a driver impaired, unlike alcohol, which has a useful 0.08 percent benchmark. The Hound Glass device is incredibly sensitive which will allow researchers to ascertain a reliable threshold.

Another problem with THC tests is that the test must measure impairment. Blood and saliva tests can test THC days or even weeks after consumption. Field devices must only detect recent marijuana use. Industry insiders also argue that the police should pair any device with a proven field sobriety test. The presence of compounds, alone, is insufficient to measure if a particular person is too impaired to drive.

If you were charged with a crime, then you may want to contact a defense attorney. This is a developing area of law, and you do not want to risk your freedom because you took these charges lightly. A lawyer can help you craft strong defenses to ensure that your rights are respected by the police, courts, and prosecutors.

Source: Vice News, "Cops Test New Weed Breathalyzer on California Drivers," Madison Margolin, September 15, 2016

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