A new invention may soon make it easier for police who pull over risky drivers to test them for marijuana impairment on the spot, in addition to the usual alcohol breath test.
A marijuana breathalyzer will begin clinical trials early next year, the Oakland, California-based Hound Labs Inc. announced this week.
“The idea is that law enforcement will have one device out on the road to test for both THC [a marijuana component] and alcohol,” said Hound Labs CEO and founder Dr. Mike Lynn, an emergency room physician at Highland Hospital, in Oakland.
Typically, measuring the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive component in cannabis that gives users a “high” — is done using urine, blood, or saliva tests. The results can show if marijuana has been used in recent days or weeks, but they are not a very accurate way to measure real-time impairment, said Lynn.