Soon there could be a new kind of breathalyzer that can test for marijuana.
Washington State University professor Herbert Hill is using ion mobility spectrometry, a technology currently used at airports and border crossings, to detect tetreahydrocanibinol (THC). Hill hopes to adapt the technology for use in a handheld device that police officers could use as a pot breathalyzer test. Recreational pot smoking is currently legal in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, but police officers don’t have a tool to quickly determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of THC.
Current ion mobility spectrometry systems are able to detect explosives and drugs, but the system Hill hopes to develop might allow police to determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of THC during a traffic stop. The state of Oregon legalized recreational marijuana use on January 1, 2014, creating new challenges for police.
Drivers with more than five nanograms per milliliter of blood in their system are guilty of driving under the influence, but pot activists argue that habitual marijuana smokers can have lingering THC in their system long after the drug’s intoxicating effects wear off. The technology Hill is working on isn’t precise enough measure how many nanograms of THC is in a suspected DUI offender’s blood, but it would be able to verify a state of intoxication. A blood test would still be necessary to determine the exact level of THC present in the suspect’s bloodstream.
[Source: News Tribune]