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Police test marijuana breathalyzers on California drivers

Marijuana legalization

(NaturalNews) Police all across the Nation may soon be able to accurately detect when drivers are operating a vehicle under the influence of THC. A new breathalyzer device that can read THC levels is being tested out in California. Hound Labs, an Oakland, California-based company, in conjunction with the University of California chemistry department, have come up with a device that detects THC on a person's breath. The company plans to distribute the device to police departments across the Nation. This could be a major step toward nationwide legalization of marijuana, as law enforcement prepares to regulate THC levels and get stoned drivers off the road.

Police to use new THC breathalyzer in 2017 in hopes of removing stoned drivers from the road

While marijuana does impair driving abilities to a certain degree, its effects are significantly different than alcohol. When drivers are stoned, they may actually be more careful, cautious and drive more slowly. Under the influence of alcohol, drivers do the opposite, underestimating their impairment, which inevitably leads to more reckless driving behaviors. For this reason, the new THC breathalyzers may divert law enforcement's attention, resources, and energy away from more important matters, such as drivers' operating under the influence of alcohol and brain-altering pharmaceuticals. In trying to single out stoned drivers, law enforcement will inevitably resort to unlawful detention tactics that impede on one's individual liberties. The THC breathalyzers are likely to be a revenue stream for officers, as fines are collected from stoned drivers.

This kind of over testing of drivers' breath on the road could pave the way for widespread use of police road blocks. Do these tactics keep people safe or do they lead to distrust of law enforcement in the community?

The first field tests for the THC breathalyzer were a success for law enforcement. Two drivers who complied with the roadside test admitted to smoking marijuana 30 minutes prior. The handheld device confirmed this with a positive THC reading. Another handful of drivers confessed to smoking two to three hours prior to being pulled over. They also blew a positive reading on the device. All those who tested positive were not arrested but they were detained and not allowed to drive any further.

In the initial field tests, Hound Labs CEO Mike Lynn rode along with officers. He said that everyone who was pulled over agreed to participate in the study because they were curious. Lynn said the goal of the test was not to arrest people. "Sure, we could arrest people and people are arrested every day for driving stoned, but the objective was not to put people in jail but to educate them and use the device if they volunteered so we could get the data," Lynn said.

Previous detection methods used saliva, urine and blood samples to find THC in a person's system days after. Mike Lynn believes this new testing method solves the arrest issue, allowing law enforcement to get readings on site so they can remove stoned drivers from the road in the moment.

Chief of Police in Lompoc, California, Patrick Walsh, said in a company press release, "We are looking for the least invasive way to obtain information that indicates impairment, which is why we are participating in roadside tests."

"We don't want to arrest people who are not impaired, and yet we don't want marijuana users driving if they are high from recent use."

The devices are set to be distributed to law enforcement across the US early 2017.



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