One promising device for detecting marijuana usage in drivers has been in development since 2016 and could be ready for mass production relatively soon. However, it may take a long time before widespread use of a machine like a breathalyzer for cannabis. Kansas residents might like to know more about the efforts to identify marijuana impairment.
The device, which was made by the University of Pittsburgh, works by using carbon nanotubes to find THC through breath testing. THC binds to the tubes and changes their electrical properties. This technology could rival using mass spectrometry to detect THC. The new device is said to have a threshold for detecting recent marijuana usage.
More than 30 states allow for some legal usage of marijuana. This opens the door for motorists to drive while under the influence of the drug, but there is currently no way to assess a driver’s impairment level for pot like there is for alcohol. One problem is that researchers typically require special permissions to work with marijuana.
Even if a device could detect marijuana usage, there are still questions about how much THC a person could consume while safely being able to operate a vehicle. Furthermore, some in the law enforcement community believe it is important for authorities to first be able to detect cannabis use without a tool to simplify the process. This is important so that a testing device is not overly relied upon.
As stories like this point out, breath-testing devices are ultimately just tools used by law enforcement officials to help determine a motorist’s level of impairment. An officer might also perform field sobriety tests and use his or her own judgment when assessing impairment. Any method used to identify impaired driving could be challenged by an attorney in a DUI case.