So, weed is legal here. But driving under the influence certainly is not.
A pair of University of Akron students are working on a mobile device, much like a breathalyzer, that will “test the level of marijuana” in a person’s system, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. They’re calling it the “Cannibuster” and are hoping that it can become a roadside tool for law enforcement.
How does it work? The Cannibuster uses saliva to provide a level of THC reading (that’s the stuff that gets you high) on the device, which is about the size of smartphone. Developed by UA biomedical engineering student Kathy Stitzlein and being marketed to law enforcement agencies by Mariam Crow, it’s already getting a lot of attention, including a bit on Conan.
Right now, the Cannibuster is being tested to make sure its readings are accurate. The pair is hoping that a prototype will be out by December. Stitzlein estimates that a device will cost around $300, with a $15 microchip for each test.
The Cannibuster isn’t alone in this market either. A retired Vancouver, B.C., mounted police officer Kal Malhi has been working on the Cannabix, according to Vice. His device works by testing a breath sample from the lungs, which determines whether a user has smoked within the last two hours.
“The device will determine the THC levels, as opposed to cannabinoids [CBDs] which can stay in the system for 72 hours,” Rav Mlait, the CEO of West Point Resources which will license the product in North America, told Vice. “That’s the problem with saliva testing.” (THC is the stuff that gets you high; CBDs do not).
And researchers at Washington State University are also working on a cannabis breathalyzer, too, according to Bloomberg.
Cannabis enthusiasts fear that these tests may not be accurate, aka if you smoke up on Friday night, some would read that you’re still high on Monday morning. You can read more about driving under the influence of marijuana vs. alcohol in this New York Times piece here. But, as researchers are finding when it comes to accurate readings of impairment, alcohol and THC are two entirely different beasts.
One thing’s certain: Police will eventually use a road-side device to test drivers if they’re high. Which one, of course, will depend on a lot more testing.
In the meantime, watch the Conan bit below: