As Canadians continue to adjust to the new world of legal and widely available recreational cannabis law enforcement, employers and helicopter parents of all kinds are eagerly awaiting new technologies that claim to be able to detect impairment due to THC in the bloodstream. Luckily for routine users of cannabis marijuana breathalyzer and other marijuana detection devices face some extremely difficult hurdles in order for them to be considered for widespread use, not to mention being utilized in a legal setting.
As almost anyone who has had to drug test for a job before already knows THC has an annoying tendency to glob onto the fatty tissue in our bodies and can therefore be detected by some tests many weeks or even months after even casual marijuana use. In fact this fat soluble nature of cannabis is a major factor in the process that enables us to use the substance of THC to get high and also enjoy the myriad medicinal benefits the cannabis plant provides.
But when it comes to thc breathalyzer devices and other roadside sobriety detection methods the presence of THC in the bloodstream is not indicative of current impairment at all and can’t be used to judge a person’s suitability for driving. Hopes are high in the law enforcement and stricter employment fields that a reliable cannabis breathalyzer device will emerge but so far nothing has been developed that would reliably detect the level of impairment or whether a person smoked that day or earlier that month.
Marijuana Detection Devices
There are currently several companies in Canada and the United States in competition with one another trying to develop the world’s first reliable cannabis breathalyzer. They have some great press releases and marketing materials floating around the web but stories about them have gone mostly silent since their initial announcements at the onset of widespread legalization in Canada.
Here at Haute we’re not holding our breath – if you’ll pardon the pun. Despite the best efforts and intentions of the law enforcement agencies and employers who would love to have an extra tool in the toolkit to try and cause cannabis users in their communities grief it seems unlikely that a weed breathalyzer worthy of being held up as reliable evidence in a court of law is on the immediate horizon.
This is mostly because of the nature of cannabis and the way it is processed in the human body. But it should also be noted that in many studies regarding cannabis use and driving – impaired driving being the principal driver of concern for those who argue a pot breathalyzer is even necessary to have – people who drove under the influence of cannabis were less likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to accidents such as speeding to overtake another vehicle or driving aggressively.
There is a great Bill Hicks bit where he proclaims that cannabis should not only be legalized it should be mandatory! As he demonstrates in his stand up comedy it would reduce the amount of road rage possibly to nothing
Is THC Impaired Driving a Problem?
Much the same way all public health decisions concerning cannabis seem endlessly gridlocked by the attitudes and strict social rules concerning tobacco the spectre of impaired driving continues to haunt cannabis users. Many people who use cannabis routinely do so for medical or health reasons and have built a high level of tolerance to the effects and they would undoubtedly always test positive on almost any conceivable pot breathalyzer thus far proposed or designed even though they would not be impaired by any visible measure.
It might shock law enforcement and non-cannabis using segments of the population to learn this but cannabis users have existed for a long time before recreational legalization happened. Many people who use cannabis routinely also do so purely for enjoyment and entertainment. Many of these people are fully capable, functioning, employed adults who also happen to drive. People who regularly smoke cannabis and use edibles have been driving without causing a scourge of fatal accidents in the way alcoholics have since the invention of the car.
Unlike with alcohol there is not a massive social issue involving cannabis use and car crashes. After legal dispensaries opened across Canada and in some States the amount of fatal car crashes actually declined! This is most likely because people stopped turning to alcohol and began to use the legally available weed and they were therefore less likely to get in a fatal accident.
Unlike with alcohol people who get stoned do not tend to underestimate their impairment. If anything you tend to overestimate your level of impairment on cannabis, especially when taking a high dose. A person who is impaired enough to not be able to drive after smoking or taking an edible would have to do so many mental gymnastics just to hype themselves up enough to get behind the wheel that most smokers I know would pack another bowl and decide to stay inside before they even found their car keys.
Marijuana Breathalyzer for Employers
There are certainly some jobs and circumstances where an employer may want to test and be certain that their candidates or employees do not partake in any cannabis use at all and for those organizations tests already exist and are widely used. The argument that an instant on-site apparatus for testing if your employee or even your children have smoked weed is a necessary invention is a flimsy and outdated concept in the vast majority of situations.
No kid should be subjected to a marijuana breathalyzer by a controlling parent after going out or under suspicion that they are “hanging with the wrong crowd”. If these thc breathalyzer devices become widely available to the public and are given a stamp of approval by law enforcement or other government agencies they will be used by parents who feel the need to control every aspect of their children’s life and development.
While there are certainly some industries and situations where use of cannabis should be and is very reasonably prohibited too often it is discriminated against unnecessarily because of years of misunderstanding and miscatergorization. If regular use of cannabis by drivers and employees was going to pose a real societal problem it would have made itself apparent long before legalization and now years after recreational cannabis has been made available to all there is no established link between cannabis use and an increase in fatal accidents.
While companies race to develop a reliable weed breathalyzer those of use who have been smoking routinely and daily – even at work! – will continue as normal. No cannabis user is looking forward to the day when a marijuana breathalyzer gains widespread acceptance and begins to be used to determine sobriety levels of people behind the wheel or at work. So far it looks like these devices are prone to lots of false positives and no marijuana breathlayzer yet developed is able to determine the level of intoxication a person is experiencing. They can only detect the presence of THC, often in such minute amounts that it could never be useful in a court of law or official capacity.
Other Challenges to Roadside Testing
As mentioned previously none of the devices thus far developed are able to gauge the current level of impairment of the user being tested. If a device will provide a positive result when someone has even trace amounts of THC in their blood or breath then even the most casual users or people who live with or near regular smokers would be likely to trigger false positive results.
From what is currently understood about portable roadside testing units no current technology exists that can reliably determine if someone is too stoned to drive. That certainly won’t keep law enforcement, concerned government agencies, helicopter parents and other control freaks from trying their hardest. It’s good to see a lot of money and effort wasted on a solution without a problem seeing as there is not a major social issue involving impaired drivers on cannabis and never has been. People have been smoking and driving for many decades before cannabis was ever legalized for recreational use and it has not prompted the same level of concern until lately.
There is a good reason why roadside testing and these technologies are so sought after. Without the ability to hassle drivers, citizens and employees about what they do on their private time quotas for tickets and prosecutions will fall. When cannabis was stricltly illegal it was a great entry point into starting a search or an arrest of a suspect based solely on the smell or suspicion of cannabis use.
Now that law enforcement cannot rely on cannabis as a marker of a potential suspect or target they are scrambling for a new surefire method to be able to search your vehicle or your person. Make no mistake about it – they will dress it up under the guise of protecting the public. When “protection” is thrust upon the people by an authority that thinks they know better than them it tends not to work out well.
Not only that but testing with a breathalyzer device likely won’t detect edibles at all! Maybe it’s time to stock up on gummies. We have some great options in the Haute Health shop including THC Fuzzy Peaches and CBD Gummy Bears! We’re also currently featuring some fantastic THC Distillate and some simply out of this universe Grandaddy Purple Shatter! Get yours today.