Dangerous Opinions Spur Need for Cannabis Breathalyzer

Ryan Allway

Ryan Allway

November 8th, 2017

Exclusive, Feature Stories, News

Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal everywhere, but consumers aren’t concerned given their personal beliefs and the lack of enforcement. At the same time, law enforcement has struggled to cope with growing marijuana usage given the lack of a non-invasive roadside breathalyzer capable of determining impairment. The good news is that researchers are getting close to developing an effective solution that will improve enforcement.

Dangerous Opinions

Over 90 percent of cannabis consumers surveyed last year were aware that you could receive a DUI for driving after using recreational marijuana. But that hasn’t stopped them driving under the influence on an increasingly regular basis, despite mounting evidence that marijuana affects reaction times, motor skills, and affects the general perception of speed, time, and distance. This could make it just as dangerous as alcohol when driving under the influence.

A Colorado Department of Transportation survey found that 56 percent of cannabis consumers drove within two hours of consuming marijuana and an equal percentage believed that they could safely drive under the influence of the drug. While this percentage has been steady over the years, consumers driving 11 days or more in a month within hours of consumption has increased sharply from 10 percent in 2014 to 21 percent by 2016.

More than three-quarters of marijuana consumers find it unlikely that they will be pulled over by law enforcement for being over the legal limit. Cannabis consumers are also aware that law enforcement doesn’t have any good way to determine how much THC is in the body, which is a prerequisite to a DUI conviction. While public awareness campaigns are on the rise, there is little evidence that people are heeding the advice and waiting to drive.

Unique Challenges

There are many challenges with detecting marijuana impairment that have made it challenging to develop a roadside marijuana breathalyzer.

The first problem facing researchers is the fact that alcohol dissolves in water and spreads evenly throughout the body whereas THC dissolves in locally-stored fat. Alcohol breathalyzers can easily sample alcohol levels in water particles found in a breath sample, which reliably translates to the level of alcohol in the brain. THC is absorbed in fat – namely the brain – and leaks out very slowly over time back into the bloodstream.

The second problem is that marijuana affects different people in different ways. A regular user builds up so much THC in their body fat that it could be present in the blood for weeks after they’ve last consumed marijuana. This means that a blood test may find high levels of THC present even if they aren’t currently experiencing a ‘high’. In chronic cases, they may be cognitively impaired for up to a month after last consuming the drug.

Governments have responded by setting THC limits that are enforced across the board. For example, Colorado law specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their whole blood can be prosecuted for a DUI. This opens the door to researchers working on marijuana breathalyzers that can quantify THC concentrations without an invasive blood test. It may not determine if someone is impaired, but it can determine if they’re over the limit.

Innovative Solutions

Cannabix Technologies Inc. (CSE: BLO) (OTCQB: BLOZF) has been working on a cannabis breathalyzer for the past several years. In a November update, the company indicated that its Beta 3.0 device is 95 percent complete and it plans on testing the device shortly. The FAIMS cell with mass spectrometry enables the product to isolate THC and THC-related byproducts in breath samples, while recent improvements have made it viable for roadside use.

“Cannabix Technologies continues to receive considerable interest from government and law enforcement for the development of its point of care Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer,” said Cannabix Technologies CEO Rav Mlait. “Our team of scientists in Vancouver and Florida are working methodically and rapidly to develop this device for the public.”

The company also filed several patent applications related to a marijuana-focused ignition interlock device. Such a device would require a driver to blow into an installed device confirming that the driver is not impaired before the vehicle will start. Many countries are requiring an IID as a condition for drivers convicted of DUI – especially repeat offenders – which could open up a tremendous market for the company over time.

Looking Ahead

Marijuana consumers have dangerous opinions when it comes to driving high, which is becoming an increasing problem as recreational use is legalized. Cannabix Technologies Inc. (CSE: BLO) (OTCQB: BLOZF) is developing a marijuana breathalyzer device that could address these problems with a simple roadside test.

At the same time, the company recently filed a patent application for an ignition interlock device that could become a large future opportunity. The THC sensing ignition interlock would target the court mandated market whereby drivers convicted of multiple DUI offences are required to install an ignition interlock system. The THC ignition interlock system could also be marketed to parents of new drivers to ensure that the new drivers cannot drive if they use marijuana. These two markets offer a lucrative business opportunity in the marijuana industry.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.cannabixtechnologies.com.

About Ryan Allway

Source: CannabisFN