First Marijuana Breath Analysis Test Is Born, Says US Company

The first marijuana breath analysis test has finally landed, at least according to a California company.

Just like the sobriety test for alcohol, Oakland-based Hound Labs says it has finally created the first marijuana breath analysis test.

Made from “disposable cartridge,” Hound Labs says the breath analysis test can detect THC within the past two hours from its use, the timeframe experts dub as the – peak time – for the psychoactive cannabis ingredient to come into a full circle in its effects.

 Marijuana Breath Analysis Test
Hound Labs’ breathalyzer and base station.

The two-hour mark doesn’t go far in time in comparison to the almost-approved saliva testing device, Draeger DrugTest 5000, in Canada.

marijuana test
Dräger DrugTest 5000 is a German-made detection device.

The device – already in use in the United Kingdom and Germany – is able to detect recent cannabis use, up to six hours, as well as that of cocaine.

Not Official Method To Test

Like Canada, the United States doesn’t have an official method to evaluate drivers driving under marijuana influence.

“We are trying to make the establishment of impairment around marijuana rational and to balance fairness and safety,” CEO Mike Lynn told NPR. “And there’s a whole bunch of science in this cartridge.”

Lynn confidently said that “when you find THC in the breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours.”

“We don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.”

Growing Demand

The need for a marijuana breath analysis test is growing in demand as nine US states have legalized recreational marijuana and 30 others have medical cannabis programs.

In Michigan, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2008, will see its residents vote for a November ballot that most likely will legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

However, Colorado, one of the earliest states that have legalized recreational marijuana in the United States, witnessed a rise in the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana following fatal crashes, The Denver Post reported last year.

Another study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzed insurance claims for vehicle collisions filed between January 2012 and October 2016 in states that were early in their legalization of recreational marijuana: Colorado, Washington and Oregon, and compared them with claims in similar neighboring states that hadn’t.

What they found is that collisions claim frequencies in Colorado, Washington and Oregon “were about 3 percent higher than would have been anticipated without legalization,” The Washington Post reported last year.

The study researchers said the number is “small” but remains “significant.”