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That last toke for the road could be a downer with pot breathalyzers coming

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One toke for the road could end up being a total bummer for drivers who smoke pot, with several companies in the United States preparing to market cannabis breathalyzers as legalized marijuana spreads across the country.

A Hound Labs marijuana breathalyzer, which the Oakland-based company says can detect minuscule amounts of THC on a user's breath, lies on top of its base-station in Newark, California, U.S. October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jane Ross

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LOS ANGELES: One toke for the road could end up being a total bummer for drivers who smoke pot, with several companies in the United States preparing to market cannabis breathalyzers as legalized marijuana spreads across the country.

Law enforcement agencies will require breathalyzers to detect marijuana as they are "faced with the necessity of stopping more and more motor vehicles being operated under the influence of THC," said Brett Meade, a retired police chief and a senior program manager for Washington-based non-profit group the Police Foundation.

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Nearly a dozen U.S. states allow recreational marijuana consumption and 33 states permit pot for medical use. But all states prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana.

Oakland, California-based Hound Labs is one of the companies developing a breathalyzer to detect THC – the component in marijuana that gets people high – and plans to market it in 2020.

Construction companies could be a big part of its market, said Hound Labs Chief Executive Officer Mike Lynn.

"Nobody wants a crane operator 50 stories up to be smoking a joint," he told Reuters.

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Lynn, a physician, said pregnancy tests, which can detect minute quantities of hormone, inspired him to tackle the challenge of measuring THC on users' breath.

Separately, Cannabix Technologies Inc based in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby is testing a pair of devices at different price points.

Its THC Breath Analyzer could be cheap enough at a few hundred dollars per unit to potentially allow parents interested in testing their teenager before turning over the keys to the family car, said Cannabix CEO Rav Mlait.

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