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Is a Marijuana Breathalyzer Really On the Way?

It seems that marijuana reform is beginning to sweep the nation – these days, more than 40 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, and two of them have even legalized pot for recreational use. As the nation becomes more pro-weed, however, critics are expressing concern that more marijuana users could lead to more people driving under the drug’s influence.

Authorities have long been searching for an accurate way to test how intoxicated a marijuana user is, and they may have found it with a Canadian company called Cannabix. Cannabix recently completed a prototype marijuana breathalyzer, a device which will theoretically help law enforcement determine if someone is too stoned to drive. The question is, however, can this really work?

Why is It Challenging to Test for Marijuana?

The active ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. Unlike alcohol, which is water soluble, THC is actually fat soluble. This means that after using marijuana, the active compound stays in your fat cells for several weeks, during which you can still test positive for the drug. While blood tests can accurately assess whether or not someone has used marijuana, they can’t accurately determine when the marijuana was used, and they do not indicate how impaired the person may be. Some states now use saliva tests and cheek swabs, as saliva is replaced by the body more frequently than blood, but these can also cause a person to test positive days after using the drug.

Does the Cannabix Device Actually Work?

In the first half of 2015, Cannabix aggressively marketed their device through a series of press releases which imply that they are close to perfecting their device. Despite this, there aren’t currently any tests or studies which suggest that the device does what it’s designed to do. Although they have showcased prototypes, they have yet to give a live demonstration. For now, pot smokers and law enforcement officers shouldn’t hold their breath.

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