With marijuana’s increasing popularity and acceptance, it was only a matter of time before the advent of a handheld device to measure the presence of THC in an individual’s system. A THC breathalyzer would supplant blood and urine tests, which are currently the only available method to determine whether someone is under the influence of THC, the psychoactive element of cannabis.
Vancouver’s Cannabix Technologies, one of several companies developing a THC breathalyzer, hopes to be the first to unleash such a product on the market. The device uses a technology that can identify recent consumption of THC. Cannabix has not revealed when the product will go on sale, but it has stated that a patent is pending.
Other companies working on similar products include Lifeloc Technologies, Inc., which currently markets alcohol breathalyzers, and a Washington State professor and Ph.D. student duo. A Lifeloc executive has said that the first THC breathalyzer to hit the market will likely report only the presence or absence of marijuana at the time of the test, as opposed to a quantitative analysis.
While the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol are widely accepted, there is a lack of scientific and empirical evidence regarding how exactly marijuana affects driving ability. While the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration has been fixed nationwide at .08 percent, states vary on what it means to be illegally “under the influence” of marijuana. In several states, any presence of THC is illegal, regardless of the amount. In other states, drivers must be found to have certain concentrations of marijuana in their blood or urine. Washington and Montana, for example, have both set the legal limit at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, while Pennsylvania has set its limit at 1ng/mL. A small number of states require the state to prove that the driver was impaired by marijuana by using behavior or driving as evidence.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, marijuana weakens judgment and impairs cognitive functioning, but it is unclear what concentration is required to negatively affect driving ability. Moreover, THC can remain in the bloodstream for weeks or even a month after use. It is therefore unclear how breathalyzers will distinguish between recently smoked marijuana and THC that remains in the blood from past usage, although Cannabix’s technology claims to be able to identify recent consumption. In addition, since the first THC breathalyzers will likely be able to determine only the absence or presence of marijuana in the subject’s system, there remains the issue of whether the driver has consumed enough cannabis to be legally impaired. Marijuana’s growing legal acceptance is prompting the development of such technologies.
If you have been charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation for people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses. To learn more and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-829-8513.
More Blog Posts:
Ten Illinois Cities With the Most DUI Arrests, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, July 15, 2015.
Six Hundred California Traffic Cases Under Review for Corruption, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, July 1, 2015.
Illinois Bill Setting Legal Marijuana Limit Awaits Governor’s Signature, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, June 9, 2015.