Hound Labs has created the world’s first THC breathalyzer. The device can detect if someone has used THC within the last 2 hours.
The breathalyzer doubles as an alcohol breathalyzer as well, NPR reports. The test requires a 30-second exhale into the machine that will indicate whether THC is present or not.
Once the breath sample is collected, the cartridge is inserted into a laptop-like device. The device maintains a consistent temperature to ensure consistent results. Results may take up to 4 minutes.
CEO of Hound Labs, Mike Lynn said, “We are trying to make the establishment of impairment around marijuana rational and to balance fairness and safety. When you find THC in the breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours. And we don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.”
The device will serve as a roadside option for law enforcement that provides an indication right then and there, not in several days via a blood draw. Blood draws and urine test may take several days to receive a result and do not indicate when a person used marijuana.
The new THC breathalyzer can detect THC in the most miniscule of measurements – in parts per trillion.
Lynn said, “That’s kind of like putting together more than a dozen Olympic size swimming pools and saying, ‘Hey, go find those 10 specific drops of water in those 10 pools put together.’ It is ridiculous how little [THC] there is in breath.”
To gauge alcohol impairment, the breathalyzer can detect it in parts per thousand.
Lynn said, “THC is something like a billion times less concentrated than alcohol. That’s why it hasn’t been done before because it’s really hard. It’s taken us five years to overcome those scientific obstacles.”
Roadside testing of the latest version of Hound Labs’ breathalyzer is expected to take place in the fall.
Lynn said, “They’re interested in it providing data for them at the roadside. That’s really the key, objective data at the roadside – just like we have for alcohol.”
One of the cities where testing of the breathalyzer will occur is Boston.
The Boston Police Commissioner, William Evans, said, “It’s going to be a major issue in our city as more and more motorists drive after the legalization of recreational pot. I opposed the legalization, but now we need tools to combat its ill effects. These instruments by Hound Labs and others are going to become necessary.”
If all goes well Hound Labs expects to have breathalyzers ready for purchase by the marijuana industry and law enforcement agencies in early 2019.
Photo: Hound Labs