In the world of DUI enforcement, perhaps no topic has been hotter over the last year than marijuana breathalyzers. In theory, these devices would allow law enforcement officers to test for a specific threshold of marijuana, similar to how alcohol breathalyzers are used today. However, critics question whether or not it's physically possible to determine intoxication through breath tests.
The Scientific Challenges
The major issue with the efficacy of marijuana breathalyzers is the way marijuana is stored in the body. The active ingredient in the drug is a substance called tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC. This substance is fat soluble, meaning it gets absorbed into the body's fat cells after use. Alcohol on the other hand is water soluble, which means it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
Since a large component of your breath is water vapor from the body, breath tests are able to detect trace amounts of alcohol. However, THC is not expelled through breath in the same way, posing serious challenges to the accuracy and usefulness of these tests. Furthermore, any marijuana that is detected could have been in the body for a very long time, as it takes up to 30 days for the drug to leave your fat cells.
The Current Batch of Devices
No marijuana breathalyzer device is currently in production, but there are several in the research and development stages. One of the current industry leaders is a company called Cannabix, which has yet to produce a functional prototype despite aggressively seeking investment. The product which is perhaps closest to production-ready is a prototype developed by Washington State University, but even this device has yet to achieve anything close to acceptable accuracy.
What Will the Future Hold?
The recent focus on marijuana breathalyzers is undoubtedly a byproduct of Colorado's recent efforts to legalize the drug, along with several other states. As the nation continues to trend in a more marijuana-friendly direction, lawmakers and police will only ramp up their efforts to crack down on marijuana DUI. Regardless of the current scientific challenges, it is likely only a matter of time before an effective device hits the market.
At The Samuelson Law Firm, our Colorado Springs DUI attorney understands that even the most reliable breathalyzer devices aren't always accurate. When you choose our firm to defend you, you can expect aggressive, tireless defense from an attorney who truly cares about your rights and freedom.
Don't take chances with DUI. Call (719) 941-1127 today to secure the tough representation you need.