About half of the United States now allows legal marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use and it seems just a matter of time before pot is legal in the majority of the country given the pace of regulatory change. Most companies looking to capitalize on the burgeoning space are consumer facing by lending support to legal growers, such as lessor and consultant CannaGrow Holdings (OTC: CGRW), while other firms, like Blue Line Protection Group (OTC: BLPG) are building their business by focusing on security, transportation and compliances services for cannabis retail establishments. Taking a different approach, Cannabix Technologies (OTC: BLOZF)(CSE: BLO) sees an opportunity addressing the growing debate regarding what constitutes marijuana inebriation.
This topic has no shortage of commentary as lawmakers attempt to forge standards against the backdrop of marijuana advocates wrestling with prohibition proponents. With pot still being illegal and a Schedule 1 narcotic on the federal level, states are left to their own to set policy for a clouded area that features conflicting data and often times simple conjecture with both sides arguing information that favors their opinion as an absolute.
The root of the issue as it pertains to driving under the influence stems from the undeniable fact that tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) in marijuana has psychological and physiological affects, but each person metabolizes it differently, so creating a benchmark for driving impairment is a difficult task. Most marijuana exponents hold tightly to differences in the metabolic process and frequency of use (tolerance) as some basic factors to support their cause, along with stark differences between the effects of alcohol and marijuana to dispute that there should be any real parallel drawn between the two for establishing laws. On the other side of the coin, organizations, such as the Institute for Behavior and Health, say marijuana use is a “serious highway threat” and the 5 ng/ml THC in whole blood standard used by some states “give drivers a free pass to drive stoned.”
Regardless of advocacy groups or lobbyist arguing their stance, laws are being implemented for driving under the influence of weed, including some states employing zero tolerance per se laws. This means that any detection of THC in a person’s system is in violation of impaired driving law.
As it stands now, some law enforcement agencies use drug recognition experts (DREs) to put persons suspect of driving under the influence of drugs through a battery of tests, which can be followed by a blood test to identify any drug use. Looking to provide a non-invasive, portable alternative , that would provide instantaneous results so that police can mitigate risks and justify probable cause for further testing. Cannabix is developing the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer, a THC recognition system for law enforcement and the workplace that operates somewhat akin to alcohol breathalyzers that are widely used today.
The company’s marijuana breathalyzer is still in the prototype stage with an alpha version announced on March 2. Cannabix says that internal testing is being started with medical marijuana users to determine any requisite modifications and that a beta version will follow for testing by independent agencies. According to Cannabix President Kal Malhi, discussions are already underway with interested parties for testing. Once commercialized, the initial target will be markets in states with zero tolerance policies for marijuana use.
The wrangling over what exactly should be the metrics to quantify marijuana inebriation is certainly intense and laws will always be questioned, just as some groups contest that the nationwide law of drunk driving measured by a blood alcohol content above .08 as unfair. Like it or not, the law is the law and legislation is put in place to protect public safety. Although medical marijuana use has been legal in several parts of the country for a number of years, the whole regulatory environment is changing and facing greater scrutiny as legalization of pot spreads across the U.S. With that, technology such as the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer is evolving to make the process of determining high drivers more efficient.
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