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Marijuana breathalyzers to detect if drivers are high behind the wheel

The company claims it can determine the amount of THC present on a driver's breath without taking a sample of bodily fluid.
Credit: AP
FILE PHOTO: Marijuana buds (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Following a recent Florida Highway Patrol initiative to prevent people from driving while high, an announcement for the creation of a marijuana breathalyzer has also been made.

Hound Labs, Inc. announced the "first-of-its-kind" breathalyzer which determines if a driver has smoked weed recently and hopes to hold drivers accountable.

Credit: Hound Labs

Recreational weed is now legal in nine states and D.C., and the California-based company claims the device can pick up any amounts of THC on a driver's breath, USA Today reports

According to Live Science, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects.

While the dangers of drinking and driving have been highlighted for years, FHP highlighted the dangers of being high while driving in their recent "Drive Baked, Get Busted" campaign

The campaign claims "Driving high is driving impaired. You can hurt yourself. You can hurt others. You can face serious legal and monetary consequences as a result of a DUI arrest."

Marijuana can impair the cognitive abilities needed for safe driving, including tracking, motor coordination and visual function. Marijuana can also cause divided attention, according to the Live Science website. 

The product announcement follows concerns about current detection for stoned drivers through field sobriety tests, which yield inconsistent results. Tests of blood, breath or urine samples can be inaccurate and can detect if the driver has been high in the past week, according to USA Today.

The company's website claims the "hyper-sensitive" breathalyzer can determine recent marijuana use in just minutes, can avoid detecting marijuana use from days before and can collect samples without the use of oral fluid, blood, or urine. 

Hound Labs performed a second clinical trial of the product in late February and the results seemed promising, CBS affiliate WKMG reports.

As far as possible future police and widespread use, the company remains hopeful.

“We have had a great deal of interest in our breathalyzer from law enforcement and employers in the U.S., and across the globe,” Hound Labs says online. “(We) continue to receive new inquiries regularly. ... We have tested versions of the Hound marijuana breathalyzer with law enforcement as part of the development of the tool. Multiple law enforcement agencies are planning to use our breathalyzer when it becomes available.”

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