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New ‘Potalyzer’ Allows for Testing Marijuana-Intoxicated Drivers

A team of engineers from Stanford University has created a device that can quickly test whether a driver is under the influence of the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s RSHO-X™ is a THC-free hemp oil that allows users to access cannabidiol (CBD) without concern of a marijuana DUI.

Stanford University engineers have developed a portable device that can detect tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in saliva, giving police officers a tool to test whether drivers are operating vehicles while under the influence of marijuana. The device not only tests the presence of THC, but measures its concentration.

THC is the psychoactive, mind-altering compound found in marijuana that produces the “high” sensation. While THC has been shown to possess several therapeutic benefits, it can also temporarily impair motor coordination and reaction time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, driving a vehicle with THC in the blood stream increases the risk of accidents.

Marijuana DUI laws vary by state. While 33 states have yet to establish THC-specific driving laws, 12 states have zero tolerance for driving under the influence of THC. Under the law in Colorado, where both adult use and medical marijuana are legal, a driver’s blood THC level must not be 5ng/ml or higher. In states with established marijuana DUI laws, until now police officers were at a loss with how to test drivers that were suspected of consuming marijuana. The blood, breath or urine tests commonly utilized aren’t always accurate.

The new ‘potalyzer’ would allow an officer to wipe the inside of a driver’s mouth with a cotton swab and test it immediately in the new device. The unit is able to detect THC concentrations in the range of 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva and the officer would get results delivered to a smartphone or laptop within three minutes.

DEA marijuana illegal

“This November, several states will vote whether to legalize marijuana use, joining more than 20 states that already allow some form of cannabis use. This has prompted a need for effective tools for police to determine on the spot whether people are driving under the influence,” said a Stanford news release.

Shan Wang, professor of materials science and engineering and of electrical engineering, led the team of Stanford engineers. Their unit contains a disposable chip cartridge that contains magnetoresistive (GMR) sensors that are pre-coated with THC. Any THC molecules in the driver’s sample would bind to the THC antibodies in the chip cartridge. The unit could also be modified to detect any molecule, which means it could be used to test for other substances, including morphine, heroin and cocaine.

The researchers said they focused on testing saliva, as it’s a less invasive test. In addition, the presence of THC in saliva likely correlates with impairment better than its presence in urine or blood.

Along with students, the Stanford engineers are busy developing a user-friendly version of the device. It would then need to go through field tests and be approved by regulators before being offered as a tool to police officers.

Because the ‘potalyzer’ tests specifically for THC, most cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil products, which contain little to trace amounts of THC, wouldn’t result in a positive test.

Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s first-of-its-kind zero-THC hemp oil product, RSHO-X, is an ideal option for those liable to drug tests like the ‘potalyzer’. The THC-free hemp oil allows users to access the natural benefits of cannabinoids like CBD without fear of reprisal for testing positive for THC. Learn more about our RSHO-X™ by visiting our online store.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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