Major Breakthrough in Breath-Based Marijuana Measurement and Detection
Cutting-edge technology first to measure levels of marijuana in breath, paving way for roadside detection of impairment from recent marijuana use
OAKLAND, Calif. – December 2, 2015 – Hound Labs, Inc., announced today a scientific breakthrough that allows the company to detect and measure the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in breath. Hound Lab, Inc.’s proprietary technology will provide, for the first time, the measurements necessary to help determine if an individual is impaired from recent marijuana use. Working in conjunction with scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, Hound Labs, Inc. is now optimizing the technology for a handheld device for use by law enforcement. Clinical trials will begin next quarter in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital.
“This incredibly efficient and responsive technology is necessary to measure THC which requires a method that is more than one million times more sensitive than what is used to measure alcohol in breath.”
– Matt Francis, UC Berkeley professor and Associate Dean of the College of Chemistry
“In just one or two breaths, our new scientific approach is able to capture THC, and, through an extraction process, measure the actual level to less than 500 picograms,” said UC Berkeley professor and Associate Dean of the College of Chemistry, Matt Francis. “This incredibly efficient and responsive technology is necessary to measure THC which requires a method that is more than one million times more sensitive than what is used to measure alcohol in breath.”
Prior to the existence of the company’s patent pending technology, it has been impossible to detect and measure marijuana levels in breath with any accuracy using portable devices. Existing tests that rely on blood, urine, or saliva samples do not distinguish between recent and chronic use. In other words, they only detect if marijuana has been used in the past few days or even weeks, not whether someone smoked marijuana recently and is actually impaired.
“By measuring THC in breath, Hound Labs, Inc. will help us get impaired drivers off the road and also make sure that unimpaired individuals who happen to have some THC in their system aren’t wrongfully arrested.”
– Greg Ahern, Alameda County Sheriff
“Law enforcement needs a roadside device that can help us determine if a driver is impaired from recent marijuana use,” said Alameda County Sheriff, Greg Ahern. “Current methods for testing THC are not practical for the roadside. On top of that, results can take weeks and will only tell us if marijuana is in a person’s system. By measuring THC in breath, Hound Labs, Inc. will help us get impaired drivers off the road and also make sure that unimpaired individuals who happen to have some THC in their system aren’t wrongfully arrested.”
More than 20 million¹ people in the U.S. are regular users of marijuana and smoking by teenagers has skyrocketed to the point where it is more common for teenagers to drive stoned than drunk².
“As an ER physician and reserve Deputy Sheriff in California I have directly witnessed the consequences of marijuana-impaired driving,” said Dr. Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs, Inc. “We need a way to not only test “yes” or “no” for the presence of marijuana, but to actually measure and correlate THC levels with impairment, like we have done for alcohol.”
¹ Hampton Sides, “Marijuana’s Moment”, National Geographic, June 2015.
² Marijuana-Using Drivers, Alcohol-Using Drivers, and Their Passengers: Prevalence and Risk Factors Among Underage College Students; Jennifer M. Whitehill, PhD; Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH; Megan A. Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH; JAMA Pediatr. 2014; 168(7):618-624; Driving After Marijuana Use: The Changing Face of “Impaired” Driving. Mark Asbridge, PhD; JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(7):602-604
About Hound Labs, Inc.
Hound Labs, Inc. is a scientific device company that has developed the first technology capable of rapidly, accurately, and inexpensively measuring the levels of both marijuana and alcohol in a person’s breath. Founded in 2014, the Oakland-based company was created by Dr. Mike Lynn, an ER physician, reserve deputy sheriff, and former venture capitalist and his co-founder Mr. Kuni Oh, a patent attorney with a deep technical background in engineering and science. For more information visit www.houndlabs.com.