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'Marijuana Breathalyzer' Will Begin Clinical Trials Early Next Year

Update Date: Dec 07, 2015 06:25 PM EST

One breathalyzer might make it simpler for the police to check out marijuana intoxication on the spot. The trials for this technique are slated to be conducted by an Oakland, California-based company, according to CBS News.

"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 Mike Lynn, CEO and founder of Hound Labs Inc., a firm that created the device along with scientists from the University of California, Berkeley.

Right now, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the blood, urine or saliva are checked to see whether the substance has been used in recent days or weeks. However, this technique is not a good one that can measure "real-time" impairment.

This machine will be handheld, and available to the police and consumers for $1,000 or less. It will be tested by law enforcement agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area, even though Lynn is trusting that it will finally be made use of all over the country.

"We plan to do clinical studies and also work with law enforcement on testing to make sure we have the exact device that's really needed out there on street," he said.

However, more study is needed to check how much is the legal limit of THC in the body during driving. Right now there is a "zero-tolerance policy" according to Gizmodo. Also, how much it impairs cognitive performance is also not known.

"Right now the standards are completely arbitrary. I would argue that they are useless," said Lynn. "Our ability to measure THC in breath really should shift the national dialogue from one about simply detecting if THC is in someone's body to a conversation where standards can be developed that reflect actual impairment."

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