Get Ready for Weed Checkpoints: The Marijuana Breathalyzer is Now a Reality

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
By Paul Martin

Matt Agorist
September 10, 2019

Ever since legalized recreational marijuana has become a reality in America, the powers that be have been brainstorming new ways in which to prosecute the legal marijuana user. Obviously, driving stoned is high on the list of no-nos, but the police state will exponentially increase now that cops will soon have marijuana breathalyzers.

As there are now 33 states with some form of legal marijuana, the government has been chomping at the bit for ways to find out how much THC you have in your system. Because THC metabolizes far differently than alcohol, this has presented a challenge to the authorities. Until now.

Current THC testing procedures have relied on blood, hair, and urine samples which test only for the presence of THC. Merely having THC in your system, however, is no way of indicating impairment.

Interdisciplinary researchers in Pitt’s Department of Chemistry and the Swanson School of Engineering claim to have overcome these limitations by using carbon nanotubes in their breathalyzer. The THC molecules in your breathe reportedly “bind with the tubes and alter their electrical properties, while sensors detect levels of the compound with an accuracy comparable to, or better than, mass spectrometry, the gold standard for THC detection.”

“The semiconductor carbon nanotubes that we are using weren’t available even a few years ago,” said Sean Hwang, lead author on the paper published in the journal ACS Sensors. “We used machine learning to ‘teach’ the breathalyzer to recognize the presence of THC based on the electrical currents recovery time, even when there are other substances, like alcohol, present in the breath.”

The main question which is most controversial here is the rate at which the body metabolizes THC and the ability of a breathalyzer to determine just how high a person is. This is the problem researchers admit they are dealing with now.

Despite claiming the device is nearly ready for mass production, Ervin Sejdic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who’s also at the university, to build the prototype, admits they have no way of telling how stoned someone is with their breathalyzer.

The Rest…HERE

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