Marijuana Breath Test Under Development at WSU
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Marijuana Breath Test Under Development at WSU
Posted by CN Staff on November 30, 2014 at 05:34:18 PT
By Melissa Santos, The News Tribune
Source: Seattle Times
Washington -- A team at Washington State University is working to develop a breath test that could quickly determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.Law-enforcement officers already use preliminary breath tests in the field to estimate drivers’ blood alcohol content. But no similar portable tool exists to test for marijuana impairment using a breath sample.
Stoned drivers have become an increasing concern since Washington voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2012. A quarter of blood samples taken from drivers in 2013, the first full year the initiative was in effect, came back positive for pot.WSU chemistry Professor Herbert Hill said that existing technologies — including those already used by airport security and customs agents to detect drugs and explosives — can be re-purposed to test breath for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.Hill said he and WSU doctoral student Jessica Tufariello are working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC in someone’s breath.Right now, officers and prosecutors rely on blood tests to determine how much active THC is present in a driver’s blood. Those test results aren’t immediately available to patrol officers who suspect someone is driving high.Initiative 502 set 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood as the legal limit at which a driver is automatically determined to be impaired.Initially, the marijuana breath test under development at WSU probably won’t be able to pinpoint the level of THC in the body; it will only tell officers that some active THC is present, Hill said.Still, Hill said such a tool could prove helpful to officers as they decide whether to arrest a suspected impaired driver.“We believe at least initially that it would lower the false positives that an officer would have,” Hill said. “They would have a higher level of confidence in making an arrest.”Law-enforcement agencies still would have to obtain follow-up-test results to use as evidence in court, just as they do after a positive preliminary breath test for alcohol impairment.Hill said he and his research team plan to finish laboratory tests with a prototype marijuana breath test this year, then start testing human breath between January and June 2015.After that, the researchers plan to test a version of the device out in the field, he said.Some lawmakers at a Nov. 21 meeting of the Senate Law & Justice Committee appeared impressed by the research.“WSU is going to be at the forefront, it seems to me, of supplying this kind of science and the technology that’s based on it to police all over the country,” said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle.Bob Calkins, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said the agency would “welcome anything that will help us get impaired drivers off the road.”He said the State Patrol wouldn’t want to use any new technology until it is fully developed, though.“It needs to be rock solid before we’ll adopt it,” Calkins said.Some state officials have expressed concern about increasing numbers of drivers testing positive for marijuana impairment since the drug was legalized in Washington.In 2012, 18.6 percent of blood samples taken from suspected impaired drivers in Washington tested positive for active THC, according to the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory.That number rose to 25 percent of tested blood samples statewide in 2013, the first year I-502 was in effect.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Melissa Santos, The News TribunePublished: November 29, 2014Copyright: 2014 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on November 30, 2014 at 15:17:17 PT
You say it.
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Comment #4 posted by swazi-x on November 30, 2014 at 15:11:42 PT
Rock Solid B.S.
“It needs to be rock solid before we’ll adopt it,” Calkins said.How about making "rock solid" the idea that you need ANY breath/blood test to tell if a driver is impaired? Our masters already have a complete, well-understood and accurate series of roadside tests to determine if there is any ACTUAL impairment. Thing is, "stoners" easily pass these long trusted roadside tests, even when they reek of weed, and since I-502 the smell of herb is no longer enough to arrest or search them. For most cops this goes against the standard Drug War idiocy of locking up weed smokers. The 5ng/l poison pill slipped into I-502 is a handout to cops in WA to get them to quit whining about recreational weed - it's a shining light in their unending quest for higher arrest numbers, overtime pay and job security in the face of the long-overdue normalization of weed that's taking their favorite arrest fodder of "stoners" away from them. They don't like this at all.The whole idea of a limit of THC that proves impairment is valuable only for cops' purposes and has nothing whatsoever to do with making our roads safer. It's a red herring for you logic fans out there. Pure B.S. and clear proof that our masters care nothing about reality, our well being or anything other than keeping themselves in positions of power over us. Rulers who are in bed with the enforcement faction of their regime retain control much longer than those who are at odds with them.
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Comment #3 posted by End of the Rope on November 30, 2014 at 13:40:55 PT:
  Given the number of strains and the number people, and couple that to the fact that cannabis effects people differently, and you have a very large number of outcomes. I personally don't think 5ng/ml is anywhere near where it should be and shouldn't be used as a lever to uphold any probable cause claim. Impairment determination concerning cannabis will need to take into account many more factor than just THC.
  One of the most important aspects of cannabis is the synergistic effects it has. CBD and THC taken in different ratios can produce different effects. For me personally a CBD/THC ratio of 2/1 produces very little euphoric effect, but if I take the THC by itself I'll get much more euphoric effect.
  The strains and their ratios along with age, weight, history of use, diagnosis , time between meals, and my favorite color that day are all but a short list to consider someone impaired. If it were a simple thing to solve, it would've been done a long time ago.
  Diagnosis has to be considered also. Some of us use cannabinoids just so we can reach a state of normality. Epileptic patients that use medical cannabis are a fare comparison of what I'm talking about. I'd be more comfortable with them on their medication than without if they were on the road.
No test for a single substance of cannabis is fare or accurate to the state of impairment. 
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Comment #2 posted by End of the Rope on November 30, 2014 at 12:25:59 PT
5ng/ml is joke. The people have been duped again into another set of lies. 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 30, 2014 at 06:38:27 PT
union employment opportunity
Whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana is different than whether a driver is too impaired to operate a car.If the object was to honestly only confront drivers who are too impaired to drive, then 5 nano's would be less useful. Clearly, many drivers can safely drive with more than 5 detected nano's. But 5 nano's is what it is.Now, they may be working to confront people who have less than 5 nano's.-0-"Initially, the marijuana breath test under development at WSU probably won’t be able to pinpoint the level of THC in the body; it will only tell officers that some active THC is present,Law-enforcement agencies still would have to obtain follow-up-test results to use as evidence in court, ..."-0-Look, it's commendable to get people off the road who are honestly too impaired to drive, no matter what's effecting their abilities.But confronting a driver / citizen who simply has THC of any amount to detect, should not be the goal of people in positions of trust.-0-The motivations of people who constantly pursue opportunities to confront, harass and cage people should be examined and squelched.A little hitler goes a long way negatively effecting all of Us.
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