LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An Oakland-based company has developed a marijuana breathalyzer for distribution across police stations in the U.S. to begin a nationwide test to see if they can monitor people operating motor vehicles while under the influence of pot, and drivers in California were among the first to be tested.
As a part of a initial field test, several drivers were pulled over due to poor driving and were asked to voluntarily blow into the marijuana breathalyzer developed by Hound Labs.
According to RT, two of the drivers who took part in the test had admitted to smoking pot in the previous 30 minutes, and both drivers delivered a positive reading on the handheld device.
There were other drivers who confessed to smoking two to three hours before driving their vehicles and they also tested positive.
None of the positive tested drivers were arrested, as this was all part of a field test, but they were not allowed to continue driving.
Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs said, “We were not trying to arrest people. … Sure, we could arrest people and people are arrested every day for driving stoned, but the objective was not to put people in jail but to educate them and use the device if they volunteered so we could get the data.”
Lynn, who also works as an emergency room doctor in Oakland and a reserve officer with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, tagged along with officers to assist in the test.
The marijuana breathalyzer – which had some help in development by the University of California’s chemistry department – is able to detect THC on people’s breath after they’ve consumed edible pot products as well as alcohol.
Hound Labs plans to roll their product out nationwide upon further testing to validate the technology’s results.
Until it’s perfected, police will have to continue relying on testing saliva, urine, and blood to measure marijuana in the system, which can show the presence of drugs days after the user is actually under the influence.
Some police have already shown their support for the breathalyzer, including Lompoc Police Chief Patrick Walsh, who says he plans on issuing the device to at least six of his departments over the next six months.
“We are looking for the least invasive way to obtain information that indicates impairment, which is why we are participating in roadside tests,” said Walsh. “We don’t want to arrest people who are not impaired, and yet we don’t want marijuana users driving if they are high from recent use.”