Here’s an angle on the marijuana business boom even anti-marijuana investors can get behind: marijuana breathalyzers. A Canadian company with a management team loaded up with forensic doctors and ex-cops is positioning itself as the go-to product for testing stoned drivers. Cannabix Breathalyzer Inc. (CSE: BLO), formerly West Point Resources (TSX Venture:WPO), has an agreement to license the North American Rights to the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer.
As explained by Equity.com, the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer provides rapid detection of THC. Much like alcohol breathalyzers, the marijuana breath test is designed for roadside use to identify drivers who are high. Currently, there are no reliable tools to detect drugged driving. This means a low success rate in court because the only tool available is an officer’s opinion.
According to Mother Jones, there is competition. “Swedish company SensAbues’s proprietary breath-testing device can detect recent use of a wide range of drugs, including prescription meds, cocaine, and marijuana.” And The Denver Post reports that LifeLoc Technologies “has landed a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development to develop a [breathalyzer] to assess THC impairment. The grant will allow Lifeloc Technologies to speed development of a tool that will be marketed to law enforcement, corrections, schools and workplaces.”
Accident Numbers from Driving High
For years there have been jokes about stoned drivers being more cautious. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that THC is the most commonly found substance, after alcohol, in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Between 4 and 14 percent of drivers involved in major traffic accidents tested positive for THC. In Australia, a study of over 3,000 fatally injured drivers concluded that THC in the blood of the driver increased the likelihood that the driver was at fault.
Simulator, open and closed road tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown that marijuana impairs performance on driving tasks. Car handling performance decreases, as does reaction times. Also affected are time and distance estimation, and sleepiness. Add alcohol and the numbers get even worse.
Breathalyzer as Niche Market
There is currently no way to verify recent marijuana use without taking spit or urine samples. Since these tests collect DNA, they give the police information that they are not entitled to and that can run afoul of privacy laws. A recent study in medical journal Clinical Chemistry concludes, “the breath test could be an alternative to the THC-blood test commonly used, which remains controversial.”
A handy marijuana breathalyzer could find a niche market that fills the void and provides law enforcement with a detection tool. Ironically, it could also provide anti-marijuana investors with a pro-enforcement tool that helps bust people for driving high.