Marijuana is the most widely used drug worldwide and, after alcohol, is the most detected substance among roadside surveyed drivers. As marijuana becomes legal in more jurisdictions, this problem will continue to grow.
Marijuana intoxication leads to cognitive and psychomotor impairment resulting in altered perception, reaction time, short term memory malfunction, attention and motor skills. Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks and on open and closed driving courses for up to approximately 3 hours. Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times, impaired time and distance estimation, inability to maintain headway, lateral travel, subjective sleepiness, motor in-coordination, and impaired sustained vigilance have all been reported.1
In many jurisdictions, law enforcement deploy drug recognition experts (DREs) at roadside to help determine marijuana impairment. DREs conduct various observational and physical tests to assess whether someone is potentially impairment and help determine the nature of such impairment. After a series of field sobriety tests, an officer may request a saliva, blood or urine sample for analysis. Despite the complex evaluation process, the opinion of a DRE is subjective and not conclusive to determine if an accused was driving a vehicle while impaired by the presence of a drug.
When a driver’s blood sample is collected, the collection almost always occurs hours after ingestion has ceased. Often, time passes between the cessation of smoking and the beginning of driving, and more time passes between the beginning of driving and the encounter with law enforcement officials. Yet more time passes between the beginning of this encounter and the point in time when blood is drawn (often after a search warrant is obtained for driving under the influence of drugs or after the driver has been transported to a hospital post-crash). Thus, the likely THC level detectable in such a blood sample will be relatively low.2 Cannabix's handheld Breath Collection Unit (BCU) would be used collect a breath sample at the point of care, at the time of stop. This critical breath data is easily captured, sealed and labled and used for laboratory analysis using gold standard mass spectrometry via our novel Mass Spectrometer Breath Sampler (MSBS). This critical breath data would help determine delta-9 THC drug presence at the time of stop.
Current forms of testing for marijuana use, like blood, saliva and hair sample, can identify THC ranging from minutes to days after to actual use, making it impossible to show the difference between the two. Studies3have shown that THC present in breath is detectable for a relatively short period of time (1-4 hours); whereas, it is excreted at detectable levels in other body fluids for many hours, days, or even weeks after smoking. This short time period of detection in breath presents a fairer and more relevant drug screening window.