Oakland-based Hound Labs has recently announced that they’ve developed a breathalyzer that works to measure blood alcohol content as well as THC. According to the Hound Labs website, this can be done “using only one or two breaths, the patent-pending approach detects THC and measure levels to well below 500 picograms. The company’s scientific breakthrough has been optimized to create a prototype of the first dual alcohol and marijuana breathalyzer at a price that will be practical for use by law enforcement at the roadside.”
One of the biggest obstacles for police has been having a clear set of guidelines for how much THC is too much in the bloodstream when it comes to determining if someone is too high to drive. As they stated, “…some states are not waiting to reach a consensus on how much THC is too much to drive. Washington and Montana have set a limit of 5 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) of blood, while Pennsylvania has a 1 ng/mL limit.”
The founder of Hound Labs, Mike Lynn, speaks more about how this breathalyzer can hopefully help to make this system less random in an interview with The Washington Post;
“Right now the standards are completely arbitrary. I would argue that they are useless,” Mike Lynn, the chief executive of Hound Labs, said, noting that existing tests cannot determine whether a person smoked an hour ago or 12 days earlier.
While Hound Labs’ device is designed to measure THC levels from smoked pot, it cannot provide evidence of impairment by itself.
“Our ability to measure THC in breath really should shift the national dialogue from one about simply detecting if THC is in someone’s body to a conversation where standards can be developed that reflect actual impairment,” Lynn has said.
While this product is still in the early stages, Hound Labs hopes to have it ready by the end of next year. They say it will price its product at about $1,000, which is in line with the average alcohol breathalyzer.