A crew of researchers in Pittsburgh have invented a small, boxlike system which fulfils the identical perform as a breathalyzer, apart from pot as a substitute of alcohol. It really works by detecting THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound in hashish, on the person’s breath.
“Nanotechnology sensors can detect THC at ranges similar to or higher than mass spectrometry, which is taken into account the gold normal for THC detection,” reads the official launch from Swanson Faculty of Engineering on the College of Pittsburgh.
The engineers behind the undertaking began to develop the system in 2016, as use of weed was turning into authorized in an rising variety of states — presumably with the intention of it then being utilized by regulation enforcement to make sure protected and average consumption. “If we’ve an acceptable industrial associate, then the system by itself could be fairly prepared in a number of months,” Alexander Star, a chemistry professor and the pinnacle of the Star Lab at Swanson, advised NPR.
However, the accuracy of such a device remains untested, partly because marijuana DUIs are still relatively new, legally speaking (it took lawmakers decades to formalize drink-driving limits). Additionally, computer engineering professor Ervin Sejdic, who worked on the device with Star, says that at present, the correlation between THC levels in a user’s blood and how stoned they actually are is “basically missing, from a scientific point of view.”
Sejdic adds that further scientific inquiry in this area is required in order to help courts determine what constitutes an “unsafe” level of pot use, but that study is also subject to the permission of the DEA, the acquisition of which isn’t exactly easy.
“It’s a kind of both ethical and legal issue,” he says. “Given that the marijuana is still a Schedule I substance, it’s difficult to actually carry out any research related to this substance… I think there will be some push even for the federal government to actually allow researchers to look and correlate these levels of smoking and impairment.”