Developing the breath test has been “amazingly challenging science,” but building a device to do it has grown exponentially more important as more and more jurisdictions legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use, Lynn said.
Lynn said he expects the Hound Labs device will also be used in the workplace, where employers can ensure that workers are not high on the job, and employees won’t face sanctions if they partied the day before.
Old tests for marijuana looked for trace elements in things like blood, urine, and hair. But legalization changed all of this. Suddenly marijuana testing became a spectrum, with the need to delineate between the person who threw five on it a week ago, but who still has evidence of weed in their bodily fluids, and the person who’s dangerously blazed right this moment.
The startup behind the world’s first marijuana breathalyzer just raised a fresh $30 million and offered a glimpse at how the device works
Shawn Ellis, a managing director at NFP Ventures, sees Hound’s device as an alternative to test methods currently used across industries like construction and trucking. Those tests can’t distinguish between someone who just smoked and someone who used several days before.
“The good thing is that if it is not in your breath, then you are very unlikely to have used recently,” said Dr. Lynn.
In addition to identifying impaired drivers, the test could also help suspected impaired drivers who are not guilty, too. With the breathalyzer, an officer will be able to determine if a suspected driver is not under the influence.
“Even though it’s legal, it’s not legal to drive impaired,” [Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael] said. “Allowing the officers on the street to have the right tools to address this is very important.”
People have to realize it’s not legal to drive impaired, period. […] While you or I may not do it, it’s the person in the car behind us or in front of us that is driving stoned who is going to pose a problem to us and our families.
It’s illegal to drive impaired in all 50 states. And whether you’re impaired by marijuana or by alcohol, it doesn’t matter, that’s clearly illegal.