As Oregon legalizes recreational marijuana use, and the Pacific Northwest morphs into the “bud hub” of America, there is a growing level of concern about the thousands of stoned individuals who hop in their cars every day to go pick up yet another package of Double Stuff Oreos. Marijuana advocates argue that being high behind the wheel is not nearly dangerous as being drunk, to which pot opponents merely answer with “Being under the influence while driving is against the law regardless of what your drug of choice may be.”
This is a good point, because every time we hear a stoner brag about how good of a driver they are we notice that either their fly is open or that they unknowingly have Cheetos wedged in their beard. And while there surely are plenty of people out there who are safe drivers when they are high, anything that alters someone’s sense of time and awareness should never be tied to the operation of machinery. So as new technological developments emerge in the war on drunk driving, a Canadian company has stepped forth with a weapon designed to put pot partakers behind bars.
A few months back the Cheat Sheet reported that Cannabix Technologies Inc. had been working on the development of a marijuana breathalyzer for law enforcement officials and workplace employers. This marijuana drug-impairment recognition system is being built around a breath testing technology that detects the recent consumption of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). By using breath samples that focus on spit separation technology, this device could potentially provide instant proof that someone is high. And while the device may still be in the development stages, Cannabix has seen a massive amount of support from both law enforcement officials and concerned citizens.
Stoners may be mad, but Cannabix insists that pot impaired driving is “second only to alcohol impaired driving accidents,” and that drivers under the influence of marijuana have the tendency to lose attentiveness, perception of time, and motor control. The company also says that motorists who are impaired by marijuana will sometimes rebel against law enforcement, as there currently is no way to support a criminal conviction, even when everyone knows that the typical stoner is sure to crap their pants in fear if they get pulled over by the cops.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website, “drugged driving” has become more of an issue over the years, giving Cannabix a chance to base its argument for marijuana testing on a 2012 survey that shows that an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior. It also claims that more than 16% of weekend and night time drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs, while more than 11% tested positive for illicit drugs. To quote Cannabix directly, “There is a growing NEED for the Cannabix Breathalyzer device in order to bolster convictions.”
Originally thought-up by a former Mountie and a Vancouver doctor, the idea for the Cannabix Breathalyzer was spawned when one of them came across a study from Sweden that highlighted breath testing technology. Since marijuana use can only be tested through collecting blood, urine, or saliva samples, there remains an open market for anyone who develops the world’s first instant “herbalyzer,” and with the company’s recent partnership with the University of Florida boosting its research capabilities, it looks like they are back on the fast track with this design.
When asked about why they think this product is needed, former officer and founder Kal Malhi responded, “It’s hard to prove when somebody’s high on drugs, the level of convictions on drugged driving is very low.” So with several years of drug squad experience behind him, and a recognition for a need in front, Malhi took his knowledge and joined forces with radiologist and nuclear medicine physician, Dr. Raj Attariwala. With a background in bio-medical engineering and breath testing technology, it appears that the good doctor’s endgame is to see this latest creation of his added to the list of medical device patents that he owns.
After signing Dr. Attariwala up, Dr. Bruce Goldberger was brought on board as a technical adviser due to his experience as a professor of toxicology at the University of Florida. There he has conducted extensive research on forensic toxicology, along with the analysis of alcohol on one’s breath and the measurement of drugs in biological tissue. After that the project snowballed into what you see here today, and if potheads aren’t worried now, they should be.
Cannabix’s Breathalyzer supposedly functions much like a blood glucose meter, with the breath sample being collected in one section before it is fed into a second part of the device for testing and immediate results. The device will only show if someone has consumed marijuana within the past two hours, which is more than adequate, as that is when a driver is still most heavily influenced by the drug. This concept is far superior to current testing procedures, where weed can only be detected several days after consumption, thus making it near impossible for police to prove that a person was baked when they got pulled over.
Hoping to have everything licensed within the next six months, and starting-off by marketing the product first in North America, Malhi claims, “Our society is changing our views on marijuana, it’s becoming legalized in many states… young people have no fear of driving after smoking.” But amid all this “reefer madness,” let’s not lose sight of the most commonly abused drug in America: prescription pills. Since pills are legal to use, many Americans feel zero guilt over getting loaded-up on multiple medications and going for a cruise. So if people are using legal drugs like these in all fifty states as opposed to just a few, shouldn’t Cannabix be focusing on the more prevalent impairing product?