Marijuana Breathalyzers Are About To Arrive

[DTN] Dec 1 – Drug test companies have long sought their Golden Ticket in a roadside breathalyzer for cannabis. It has proved to be a whimsical goal: easy to conceive but impossible to achieve. Until now. Several cutting-edge tech companies have recently announced the successful development of several hand-held devices that can reliably detect cannabis use in human breath for up to three hours. Some are just sizzle but some might be steak. But If any of these products pan out, it will mark the dawn of a new era of enhanced scrutiny in America’s long-standing war on THC. 

Following are two of the most recent and more meaty examples:

At the end of August, Hound Labs, Inc. of Berkeley, CA announced that it has raised an additional $30 Million to underwrite the manufacturing and marketing of the first dual-purpose marijuana and alcohol breathalyzer. That corporate windfall came after researchers at the University of California used Hound technology to confirm that breath can be used as a viable platform for measuring marijuana use within three hours after smoking. The Hounds proprietary tech – five years in development – is said to be able to detect THC molecules that are literally one billion times smaller than the cannabis metabolites currently targeted in bodily fluids. Reportedly, Hound’s handheld innovation can capture THC in breath in picograms (parts per trillion) which fade beyond detection after three hours.

Then at the end of September researchers at the University of Pittsburg unveiled a prototype for a new handheld breathalyzer that can also measure the tinniest bit of THC in a puff of human breath. This device uses semiconductor-enhanced carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair. When a captured THC moly binds to the surface of a nanotube, it disrupts the tubes’ passive electrical properties. The speed at which the current  comes back to normal indicates the presence – or the absence – of THC. With prototype in hand, the next step for old P.U.  is to field test its device on as many willing stoners as possible.

While the Hound is actively touting deployable, road-ready tech for 2020, the University of Pittsburg researchers are a little more circumspect and admit they still have a ways to go before their breathalyzer is ready for the road. The research team’s final goal, however, is not in doubt. 

“We are hoping to commercialize,” said Professor Alexander Star of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburg. 

Because, after all, the financial rewards could be… breathtaking. 

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