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The Hound Barks: Oklahoma Gets Ready for Breathalyzers

Last week the Oklahoma State Legislature earmarked $300,000 to pay for a pilot program to test out marijuana breathalyzers.  The cash allocation assures the Oklahoma will be one of the first states to use the new drug test technology.

Under the terms of the pilot program, the results of a breathalyzer pot test would not be admissible in an Oklahoma court nor would it be used in a punitive manner — yet. 

“It’s kind of a trial program to make sure the system works,” State Rep. Ross Ford told The Oklahoman.

With over 2000 dispensaries in the state, medical cannabis in Oklahoma is a robust business, or at least it was before COVID hit.

At the end of March the state’s Medical Marijuana Authority confirmed that medical cannabis will be considered an essential business during the pandemic and that dispensaries could remain open.

Before the slowdown, concerns about the quality of roadside drug tests were already running rampant throughout the state.

Joshua Smith, director of the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence admitted that the existing drug test options were inadequate. “Most of those things are going to fall into a blood test or drug recognition expert doing an evaluation and giving an opinion,” he told the press.

When lawmakers heard that Hound Labs in Oakland, California had pioneered a marijuana breath test and was looking for somewhere to field test their device, the state said it might be interested in developing a pilot program to see if it works. Representative Ford would like to see a host of breathalyzer’s spread throughout the state in both rural and urban communities.

When the $300,000. runs out and the pilot program has run its course, the data will be presented to the legislature to decide if it wants to continue breathalyzer road tests. A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety said it could take up to a year for the pilot program to get up and running.

Hound might not be the only bidder for the state contract and the rules and regulations still have to be devised.

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