Law enforcement technology finally keeping pace with cannabis legislation


As more and more states lift cannabis prohibition, it’s led to unforeseen challenges. One of those challenges is how to accurately gauge when a driver is too intoxicated from cannabis to drive safely. Unlike alcohol, cannabis intoxication isn’t easy to quantify or measure. Everyone’s body processes cannabis differently, which means a certain quantity of cannabis in one person wouldn’t be intoxicating, while that same amount would be intoxicating to another person. 

During cannabis prohibition, it was easy for law enforcement to test for intoxication. Since cannabis was illegal, any traces of the drug could result in an automatic DUI. 

Fortunately, the times have changed, but science hasn’t been able to keep up. Law enforcement needs to be able to test if a driver is within the legal limit for cannabis consumption, especially in situations where there’s been an accident. However, because of how the human body processes THC, the psychedelic compound in cannabis, it’s been difficult. 

But scientists are finally breaking ground in the area of cannabis testing. 

Hound Labs is in the process of creating a breathalyzer that not only tests blood alcohol level (BAC), but also THC levels. The THC testing picks up on the amount of cannabis consumed in the last 2-3 hours, the time when users feel the most high. The device can pick up on THC levels regardless of whether the user smoked or consumed an edible, too. This device is set to go live in early 2020 at a cost of $5,000 per unit—and law enforcement is eager to give it a try. 

Another innovation on the horizon is DetectaChem’s CBD & THC Differentiation Test Pouch. This kit differentiates between CBD, which is legal in many states, versus THC, the compound that is illegal in many states. It’s designed to make hemp or CBD production more compliant. 

DetectaChem’s product is an app-based test that measures:

  • If THC levels are above 0.3% (the legal limit for CBD products in many states)
  • How much CBD and THC is present

The DetectaChem product helps law enforcement check that hemp production for CBD falls within the legal range for CBD products. It takes the guesswork and waiting out of the testing process, saving everyone time and hassle. 

Law enforcement technology needs to keep up with the growth of the cannabis industry. The primary goal is to preserve public safety, but it also legitimizes cannabis consumption and improves law enforcement relations with users and producers. 

1 Reply to “Law enforcement technology finally keeping pace with cannabis legislation”

  1. Connie Young says:

    Cannabis will be such a huge moneymaker that the dominoes will fall at an increasing rate and the people will kick out the politicians who don’t comply. In addition to the 10 present adult-use states I predict 6 more states in 2020 will legalize adult-use for a total of 20. By then medical cannabis should be legalized federally.

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