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15th August 2016 |

How high is too high to drive? New weed breathalyser can detect THC in 3 minutes

Despite a number of older folk having still not accepted that drink driving is seriously dangerous to you and others around you, it is for the large part, considered socially unacceptable to get behind the wheel after even a few beers. And so it should be.

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However, doing the same after a little spliff of Mary Jane doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma to it and on the flipside to drink driving, a number of younger road users seem to think nothing of sparking up a fat one before or during a drive.

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To some, it is just as a destructive, damaging drug as the rest, whereas others believe it should be legalised, used medically and it’s only illegal due to large corporations and the war they waged on the hemp trade, maaannn.

But regardless of your position, it is a mind altering substance none the less and could cause trouble or worse when used in conjunction with a motor vehicle.

Until now, detecting if a driver has used cannabis is pretty much impossible without the rigmarole of sending off a sample fluid to the lab and waiting a few weeks for it to come back. Hence, many see it as ok to use whilst driving.

But Shan Xiang Wang of Stanford University might have just put an end to all of that. He’s developed a new spit test that could return a reading by the roadside in as little as three minutes. The technology works by detecting the presence of THC (the thing that gets you high) in a driver’s saliva via a portable device and reports using Bluetooth to an officer’s phone.

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It will allow the officer to see how many nanograms of THC there are for every millilitre of saliva and should go some way in combating drug driving. The issue faced at the moment is officers are not permitted to take a roadside blood test, with a urine test perhaps a step too far for a public traffic stop. They then can’t really bring someone in until they get the result or if they want to gamble a mountain of paperwork for no arrest at the end of it.

So this latest tech could really streamline the process but the only issue is that THC works differently to alcohol and isn’t absorbed by our bodies the same way. THC dissolves in fat rather than water and so can remain in tissue such as the brain for far longer than alcohol might remain in the blood stream.

Although whilst Shan admits his tech is only proof of concept at this stage, it will take a lot of testing to work out how high is too high before this can be rolled out properly.

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