Marijuana Breathalyzers Still Don’t Accurately Measure Impairment


It’s reasonable that law enforcement agencies around the world want a way to test whether someone is too impaired by cannabis to drive. The problem is they cannot produce a reliable version of a marijuana breathalyzer. A recent study from Australia found that testing the levels of THC in blood and saliva is not a smart or accurate way to determine impairment. THC is the chemical ingredient in marijuana that causes the high. “Higher blood THC concentrations were only weakly associated with increased impairment in occasional cannabis users while no significant relationship was detected in regular cannabis users,” lead researcher Dr Danielle McCartney with the University of Sydney said in a news release. ““This suggests that blood and oral fluid THC concentrations are relatively poor indicators of cannabis-THC-induced impairment.” Lack of Tests a Problem For Police Breathalyzers work fine with alcohol because they measure the level of alcohol in the bloodstream, which is a reliable way to test levels of intoxication. The biggest issue with cannabis is that it doesn’t work like alcohol. Long after people use marijuana or feel its affects, tests can still find traces of THC in the bloodstream. While the body immediately starts breaking down alcohol, it does not do the same with THC. Tests can find fat-soluble cannabis metabolites in a person’s blood and urine even weeks after they stopped feeling the effects. In the news release, McCartney said: “Our results indicate that unimpaired individuals could mistakenly be identified as cannabis-intoxicated when THC limits are imposed by the law. Likewise, drivers who are impaired immediately following cannabis use may not register as such.” This presents a problem both for attempting to design a marijuana breathalyzer for drivers and for testing employees at work. Some states, such as New York, have done away with testing for…

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