With the advent of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by Colorado and Washington in 2014 and a growing trend to legalize pot in some capacity across the nation, there is an increased interest in addressing drugged driving. The problem is that standardizing policy for marijuana intoxication is not as simple as just piggybacking long-established laws for alcohol; more science and research are required. It the meantime, technology will be coming to market, such as the marijuana breathalyzer being developed by Cannabix Technologies, Inc. (OTC: BLOZF)(CSE: BLO), to give police officers an on-site tool to enhance detection of THC, the psychotropic metabolite in marijuana. In the future, devices of this type will likely be dialed in by the forensic community and become an integral element in identifying marijuana-intoxicated drivers and in other settings, including workplaces and general consumer use, just as the alcohol breathalyzer is today.
All Blood is Not Drugged Equally
For starters, alcohol affects a person on a first time bender and a hardened alcoholic in a very similar manner, making breathalyzers reliable in determining blood alcohol content as evidence to related laws. Indeed, tolerance and some physical attributes play a role in alcohol effecting a person, but decades of research support that a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or above impairs motor and cognitive skills sufficiently in any person to make them a danger behind the wheel, thus it is the benchmark for DUI in every state. Research on the effects of THC, however, has uncovered mixed results on impairment underpinned in part by the frequency of pot usage, dissemination of THC throughout the body and metabolism times, churning debate over DUI laws pertaining to marijuana. Controversial or not, driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal in every state, including many with zero tolerance, or “per se,” laws.
The Drug Recognition Expert
There is an increasing number of “Drug Recognition Experts,” police officers that go through intensive (and expensive) training for certification to administer a battery of tests to identify people under the influence of different drugs. Governed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, DRE programs are utilized in both the U.S. and Canada, although the overall number of DREs is relatively low, numbering 6,940 in the U.S. (compared to nearly half a million sworn police officers) and only 480 in Canada at the end of 2012. DRE evidence has been challenged several times in the States on its scientific merit, with mostly limited success, and precedents are set. Even with more DRE’s, police forces are still in need of an equivalent to the alcohol breathalyzer for marijuana, a ubiquitous device that can provide non-DRE police with some immediate evidence of drivers under the effects of THC so that the person may be further evaluated.
Remember in establishing policy for impaired driving under the effects of alcohol, police were first left to subjective opinions of physical observations, such as the smell of alcohol on the suspect’s breath or slurred speech. Blood tests worked to show inebriation, but it was groundbreaking work by Dr. Emil Bogen that helped set the stage for modern technology and alcohol breathalyzers that are a standard in law enforcement.
The Cannabix Breathalyzer
The point here is that the genesis of drunk driving standards followed a path from subjectivity to science and marijuana policy is heading down the same route, a fact that doesn’t seem to have eluded Kal Malhi, President of Cannabix Technologies and a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Malhi is also the founder of Cannabix Breathalyzer, Inc., the company that has licensed 100% of the exclusive North American rights to Cannabix Technologies, effectively giving the broad investment community an opportunity to invest in the expanding marijuana market, including investors uninterested in advocating for the harvest and sale of marijuana, albeit medicinal or recreational.
Cannabix has been making steady progress in the development of its Cannabix Breathalyzer. A month after it announced that the prototype’s “mechanical design, circuit board layouts, firmware, and printed circuit board designs all nearing completion.”, it announced the completion of an alpha version of the marijuana breathalyzer. Management plans on evaluating the efficacy of this prototype on medical marijuana users, as well as making additional improvements to the device for use as a roadside or workplace drug impairment tool. In the next beta version, the company will likely begin testing the device with independent agencies to further evaluate the devices utility in the field.
Technology Critical to Police
Technology plays a critical role in law enforcement to protect the public and police officers. This is an expansive arena, including products such as those manufactured by Taser International (NASDAQ: TASR)(not just their eponymous non-lethal weapons, but also their body cameras, etc.), biometric solutions by companies like Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE)(which posted a 41% jump in revenue through the first 9 months of 2014 compared to a year earlier), firearms training simulators by VirTra Systems (OTC: VTSI) and much more. Although it has been illegal all along to drive under the influence of marijuana, the decriminalization of cannabis has put a spotlight on drugged driving; expect technology to provide the requisite tools in this application as well to help police and the justice system try to keep a thumb on crime.
Recently, CTV National News profiled Cannabix Technology’s Marijuana Breathalyzer, highlighting its promise for law enforcement:
For more information about Cannabix Technologies, visit the company’s website at www.cannabixtechnologies.com.
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