WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – This isn’t your typical alcohol breath test police keep handy. This tests for THC- the ingredient in marijuana that makes you high.
It allows you to determine if someone has smoked within the last couple hours,” said Mike Lynn, the CEO of Hound Labs, the California company behind a new marijuana breathalyzer set to be released this fall. With Pennsylvania being one of the latest states to legalize medical marijuana, local police want to add this as another tool ..
“It would show us right there on the scene have a lot of THC in the system,” said Chief Doug Higgins with Dallas Township Police.
Police say currently, its difficult to detect. Other than basic observation, police can bring in drug recognition experts and do blood testing. But authorities say those results take weeks and they’re expensive.
“Most of the time when you find it’s in their system, it’s because they were under the influence of alochol,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis. She says she is not suprised that this technology is surfacing and she expects to hear more about it.
So far, Hound Labs hasn’t said what exact amount of THC will trigger a positive response. As far as law enforcement is concerned, any THC in your system is a crime.
“The marijuana breath test would also detect alcohol levels, making it a two for one tool. One local criminal defense attorney says preliminary breath tests or PBT’s for alcohol already raise some questions.
“It’s not admissible in court usually because its not backed up by science,” said Leonard Gryskewicz, with Lapman Law.
His concern is the same of this new breathalyzer. Still, Gryskewicz says, “It could cut down on the number of people convicted of DUI’s when they aren’t really impaired.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health says they tell patients to make sure they have their medical marijuana id card on them, especially while driving. Patients should also keep the medicine in its original container. And just like other medication that might impair you while driving, department officials say patients should not get behind the wheel.
The marijuana breath test could be released this fall.