Alan McStravick for redorbit.com – Your Universe online
Stories of a marijuana breathalyzer have existed in the same realm as those pee-pool tablets we all heard about as children but never saw. Oh sure, we had friends whose other friends parents used it in their pool , but for many, it was just the chance that we might create a cloud of color emanating from our trunks that caused us to think more than twice before letting go and letting it flow.
Imagining just the possibility that a marijuana breathalyzer could exist has the same cooling effect on those who might think about drugging and driving. Current methods of detection rely on the collection of saliva, blood or urine. However, due to the long-term nature of marijuana staying in your system, proving an individual was drugged at the time of driving is very hard to prove and therefore conviction rates are staggeringly low.
That could all be about to change.
Kal Malhi, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who spent a good deal of his career as a drug enforcement officer has, with the assistance of two physicians, developed the world’s first marijuana breathalyzer that is capable of detecting whether or not an individual ingested cannabis in the two-hours previous to being tested. Malhi calls his new invention the Cannabix Breathalyzer.
Digital Journal reports that Malhi believes if it makes it into the hands of law enforcement it will further dissuade people from driving under the influence of marijuana. Partnering with Dr. Raj Attariwala of Vancouver, British Columbia and Florida physician Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Malhi claims he was inspired to develop the device after coming across a Swedish study about breath testing technology.
Law enforcement has stepped up enforcement of anti-drinking and driving policies across much of North America. As a result, that enforcement, regarded as a potential deterrent, has lowered DWI arrests and convictions in many localities. “People are becoming very afraid to drink and drive nowadays,” Malhi told CTV News, “because they feel that they will get caught and charged. But they’re not afraid to drug and drive because they don’t feel that law enforcement will do anything about it.”
Presenting law enforcement with a tool that could aid in deterrence, Malhi sees his Cannabix device as an invaluable resource in helping to lower the overall numbers of those who choose to get high and then get behind the wheel of an automobile. The Cannabix device, still unpatented, must now be subjected to a battery of field tests to determine its efficacy and its legality as a potential evidence gathering device against defendants. In the meantime, marijuana advocates at NORML have addressed the dearth of scientific evidence supporting the need to step up enforcement of drugged driving arrests and convictions. While they concede there is a brief impairment of psychomotor skills, they contend it is short lived and usually presents itself in slowing the speed of the vehicle and a slightly diminished response time to emergency situations.
In the blog entry on their site they state, “Nevertheless, this impairment does not appear to play a significant role in on-road traffic accidents. A 2002 review of seven separate studies involving 7,934 drivers reported, ‘Crash culpability studies have failed to demonstrate that drivers with cannabinoids in the blood are significantly more likely than drug-free drivers to be culpable in road crashes.’”
On the other side of the argument, the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute highlights some alarming trends about perceptions of relative safety, when compared to alcohol use and driving, with regard to marijuana use by younger people.
Regardless of which side of the fence you are on in this debate, it is important to arm yourself with knowledge presented by both sides in forming your final opinion. While the Cannabix Breathalyzer may or may not be awarded a patent after its field testing, a product will likely be introduced soon to the tool bag used by law enforcement for the detection of recent cannabis use by drivers.