The marijuana debate in America has taken a decided turn in favor of legalization in recent years. According to NBC, a Pew study showed that "57 percent of U.S. adults say marijuana should be made legal, compared to just 32 percent a decade ago." Currently, marijuana is legal in for medical purposes in twenty-five states as well as the District of Columbia. It is only legal for recreational purposes in Washington, D.C. and four states - Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska.
However, this could all change in November. Marijuana is on the ballot in nine states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota. Five of these states (AZ, CA, ME, MA, and NV) are looking at legalizing recreational marijuana. Four (AK, FL, MT, ND) are considering whether or not make medical marijuana legal in the state.
With the legalization of marijuana comes many new questions and issues, one of which is how to determine when a driver is too high to be behind the wheel. Unlike with alcohol, where police officers can use a breath test, there is no similar device currently being used by law enforcement that can quickly make a roadside assessment of marijuana intoxication. However, there are a number of breathalyzer devices being tested out and developed.
U.S. News reported in September 2016 that one company testing marijuana breath test, Hound Labs, had conducted several successful field tests. The company worked with a law enforcement agency and pulled over drivers who "were seen driving erratically or had committed a traffic fraction." Drivers were asked to voluntarily take the marijuana breath test which detects "the high-inducing compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on a smoker's breath." The device was able to detect measurable levels of THC in drivers who has smoked 30 minutes prior to being stopped, as well as those who had smoked in the prior two or three hours. None of the drivers were arrested after taking the test, but they "were forced to find another ride home." Hound Labs CEO Mike Lynn stated that the device also works on those who have consumed edible pot products. Though there are further steps that have to be taken to confirm the accuracy of the breathalyzer, "Lynn says he hopes to provide the technology to a half dozen departments over the next six months."
Breath tests are not the only detection method being developed. Companies around the world have been working to find new ways to measure the amount of marijuana in an individual's system. According to U.S. News, a U.K. company is working on a "futuristic fingerprint-sweat test" and a German company has developed a test that measures marijuana in saliva.
It will be interesting to see which of these devices becomes widely used by law enforcement agencies. Perhaps it will be the breath test, as with alcohol, or perhaps another test will prove more effective in detecting marijuana. If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana, please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Georgia DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today.