Modern Cannabis Infused Lifestyle

The National Institute on Drug Abuse Offered a Grant to Develop a Cannabis Breathalyzer Mobile App

The National Institute on Drug Abuse Offered a Grant to Develop a Cannabis Breathalyzer Mobile App

Lifestyle/Food North America
, / 70 0
SHARE

As cannabis is becoming more and more accepted and medical cannabis is legalized in a growing number of countries around the world, patients and users continue to be subject to stigma and judgment.

Driving while using cannabis is one of the areas where the rules seem to be based on a subjective judgment, instead of facts and science.

Many states in the US and several countries around the world that have legalized medical cannabis apply zero tolerance and don’t allow patients to drive while using cannabis medication. Very few countries apply zero tolerance to alcohol, despite its detrimental effects on our driving ability.

A recent French study, analyzing road fatality data pointed out that drivers under the influence of alcohol are more than 10 times likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers under the influence of cannabis.

You would not want to drive while you are blazed out. However, cannabis does not impair driving nearly as much as alcohol and many prescription drugs, and while it is legal to drive with those in your system, cannabis is treated differently.
To further complicate the question of driving while using cannabis, we also need to consider that cannabinoids, including THC, are fat soluble, therefore stay in your body a lot longer than alcohol.

Think of it like water- and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C, do not stay in your system for very long. Your body absorbs what you need in the small intestine and the rest leaves your body. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D are stored in fat cells and ready to use as your body needs them.

What it means for cannabis users is that THC can be found in their blood for over a month after using cannabis. While it may only impair their driving for a few hours after use, depending on the delivery method.

Driving with marijuana in your system

Testing for ‘how high’ someone is very difficult and most of the current roadside drug testing devices are based on zero tolerance. They are trying to detect any traces of THC in the saliva, and are notorious for false results.

There are new products in development to create a more precise breathalyzer device for cannabis, and devices, such as the Hound seem to be promising.

The race to create a product that can accurately measure how high someone is on cannabis is on and alongside Hound, Vancouver, Canada based Cannabix Technologies is also in the game to deliver a device that is in so much demand by authorities and even employers to be able to accurately test cannabis impairment.

The federal government did not want to leave it to chances and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) jumped into the game as well and issued of a request for proposals to create Digital Markers for Marijuana Intoxication.

They believe the solution is an app, due to the challenges of measuring THC in body fluids.

“Using digital parameters of person’s psychomotor impartment in the response to the marijuana consumption may represent more reliable and correlative approach for diagnostics. To test this hypothesis, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
plans to support the identification, development, testing, and validation of digital markers for detection of psychomotor impairment due to marijuana intoxication.
To increase the project efficiency and to increase interoperability and sustainability of the research tools produced as the result of this solicitation, NIDA requests that the proposed markers be developed and clinically validated using mobile applications created on Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit or Android ResearchStack frameworks.”

The solicitation document also details the challenges with measuring THC in the bloodstream reliably.

“When marijuana is absorbed, the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the psychoactive marijuana constituents, decreases rapidly in the bloodstream due to the distribution through the hepatic metabolism and absorption into fat cells. Over time, THC is slowly released back into the bloodstream and subsequently excreted in the urine. The rapid and variable absorption and release of THC into the bloodstream make it difficult to correlate the level of THC with impairment in chronic marijuana users.”

The document also details the challenges with saliva tests.

“One alternative is a saliva-based screening tool. The oral fluid is easy to collect, non-invasive, and is associated with recent cannabis intake. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that the saliva-based tests have a two- to five-fold greater variability than the blood tests, and the level of marijuana detection is also not precise.”

Due to the difficulty of assessing THC levels in body fluids accurately, the NIDA wants to test if digital parameters could be a better indicator.

“Using digital parameters of person’s psychomotor impartment in the response to the marijuana consumption may represent more reliable and correlative approach for diagnostics. To test this hypothesis, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
plans to support the identification, development, testing, and validation of digital markers for detection of psychomotor impairment due to marijuana intoxication.”

Proposals were due by October 20, 2017, and hopefully, projects like this will contribute to a fairer policy for cannabis patients and users on the roads.


Have you ever been tested for cannabis? Share your experience in the comments section below.