Pot breath test will expose impaired drivers

Mike Lynn, founder of Hound Labs, a California-based company that is focused on preventing marijuana-impaired driving, joined Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” show to discuss the launch of their cannabis breath test.

Q: So talk to me about some of the advances you guys have made. I know it’s very difficult to figure out how inebriated someone is on marijuana.

A: It’s very different than alcohol. What we’ve done at Hound Labs is we’ve created a true marijuana Breathalyzer where we’re able to measure the amount of marijuana in someone’s breath, and it only stays in breath for a couple of hours. So if we measure it in your breath, we know you used in the last couple of hours. On the other hand, if we don’t measure anything in your breath, it means you’re much more likely to have used long ago. Maybe you did it last night at home, where it’s perfectly legal and you’re not impaired now — then who should care, right?

Q: Are these things ready to go or are you still working on them?

A: It’s ready to go. We’ll be out there commercially early next year. The challenge that states have faced when trying to find a way to determine impairment is that the other ways to test for marijuana — blood tests, lab tests, urine tests and whatnot — those are usually to show marijuana, but the problem is that they can’t tell you whether somebody’s actually used in the last couple of hours or whether they used last night at home where it’s perfectly legal. So we’ve changed that completely. We just focus on breath where we know THC, the stuff in marijuana, only stays for a couple of hours. Now there’s a test, a road test Breathalyzer, just like an alcohol Breathalyzer, that will determine whether somebody really should be off the road.

Q: And does this also work with edibles?

A: Yes it does. It’s the same concept of when you drink alcohol. You drink it and the alcohol ends up in your breath, well the same thing with edibles. You eat them and eventually it gets to the bloodstream and gets into the breath.

Q: So what is the amount of time roughly? They know with alcohol roughly how long it takes to metabolize. What’s the situation with marijuana?

A: The federal government has said people are impaired for two to three hours or so after smoking pot. That’s the time period people actually need to stay off the road and that’s about the same time period that marijuana stays in your breath.

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