By Ryan Allway
Cannabix Technologies Inc. (OTC: BLOZF)(CSE: BLO), developer of the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer for law enforcement and the workplace, recently announced the appointment of Dr. Marilyn Huestis to its Scientific Advisory Board. As a leading expert on human drug testing, and more specifically, the effects of marijuana use on driving, she advises many different organizations, including the Transportation Research Board Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs and the National Safety Council’s Alcohol, Drugs, and Impairment Division.
Dr. Huestis, who on February 5thretired from her 23 year career as the Senior Investigator and Chief of Chemistry and Drug Metabolism at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will assist the company in developing the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer as a tool for law enforcement to determine if a driver is impaired. The durable, portable hand-held tool leverages FAIMS-MS technology to quickly and accurately measure THC levels in breath.
State Laws Remain Inconsistent
There are many different state laws addressing driver impairment, but these rules vary greatly between states, even from a medical point of view. Of the four states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, two have no laws on the books at all to address marijuana impairment, while Colorado and Washington only permit 5ng/mL of THC per se. Some medical marijuana states, like Nevada, have implemented similar rules or zero-tolerance rules, while some states that have no marijuana programs even have set tolerance levels.
The idea of having limits for THC seems logical. After all, everyone knows that a 0.08 blood alcohol levels is a limit for drinking and driving. The problem is that THC levels cannot be measured in the same way, which means many law enforcement agencies rely on intrusive blood testing combined with roadside tests to enforce the rules. When push comes to shove, these are difficult measures to enforce on the streets compared to breathalyzer testing.
In the below interview Dr. Huestis goes in detail about the testing done to determine comparable impairment levels:
States that allow 5ng/mL of THC per se are on the right track with having a measurable number, but they are wildly off as to what the number is appropriate. If 13.1ng/mL is equivalent to a .08 BAL, then the allowable limit in Colorado and Washington of 5ng/mL is the same as a .03 BAL, which might be too restrictive for many cannabis users.
The bigger problem is the lack of a hand held marijuana Breathalyzer that can reliably test drivers for on the spot.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and their interpretation of blood concentrations:
THC concentrations typically peak during the act of smoking, while peak 11-OH THC concentrations occur approximately 9-23 minutes after the start of smoking. Concentrations of both analytes decline rapidly and are often < 5 ng/mL at 3 hours. Significant THC concentrations (7 to 18 ng/mL) are noted following even a single puff or hit of a marijuana cigarette.
If a law enforcement officer (LEO) has to wait a couple of hours before drawing blood for a test, it is likely that the THC levels at that point would have decreased below the 5 ng/mL threshold.
Cannabix Technologies Solution
There is a clear need for both consistent state laws and a reliable hand held Breathalyzer that law enforcement officers can use on the spot. While Cannabix is already well on the path to accomplishing the latter, the addition of Dr. Huestis should not only expedite the process and lend a further air of credibility to the work that they are already doing. Dr. Huestis will work with the company in the development of its marijuana breathalyzer and provide key guidance on testing and regulatory approvals moving forward.
Cannabix Technologies was founded by a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Kal Malhi), who noticed that the standard practice of administering a sobriety test, followed by an invasive blood test or inaccurate mouth swab was simply not effective enough of a tool against impaired drivers.
His co-founder is a biomedical engineer and medical doctor by the name of Rav Mlait, who became alarmed by the number of large wrecks come through his hospital, many of which were the result of impaired driving.
Investors interested in the cannabis industry may want to check out the company as it works to launch its beta prototype and test it with law enforcement agencies around the world. In many ways, the company offers an interesting alternative to some of the other cannabis plays in the space such as General Cannabis Corp. (OTC: CANN), OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OTC: OGRMF), or Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTCQB: MJNA) in that it addresses a law enforcement opportunity.
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