The use of medical and recreational marijuana has become legal in many states. As a result, law enforcement has begun searching for new ways of identifying drivers who are under the influence and possibly impaired by marijuana and THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) based products.
Unlike alcohol, where there are several tests that can be used to determine a person’s level of intoxication, THC can be detected only through a blood or urine sample. Researchers at The University of Pittsburgh have been developing a new way of accurately detecting how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in a driver’s breath.
Though the new breathalyzer is still being developed and tested, police and prosecutors are hopeful that the new method of testing will help them identify those who are operating vehicles while under the influence. However, the tests could prove problematic for drivers who are wrongly accused of driving while impaired by marijuana.
Why Marijuana Breathalyzers Are Being Developed
Eleven states have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, while 26 others, including North Carolina, have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Though it is still illegal to grow it, possess it, distribute it, sell it, or ingest it, it is a low-level misdemeanor if you are caught with a small amount for personal consumption.
As marijuana legalization becomes more widespread throughout the county, so has a concern regarding the ability to enforce DUI laws.
Law enforcement officers do not currently have a device that can be used in the field to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.
How a Marijuana Breathalyzer Is Supposed to Work
Developed using carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair, the new breathalyzer is supposed to be able to measure the number of THC molecules, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
When a user breathes into the device, THC molecules will bind to the surface of the device’s nanotubes and alter their electrical properties, thus changing the speed at which the electrical currents can determine whether THC is present in the user’s breath.
Issues with Current Marijuana Breathalyzers
The new device could potentially present unique problems for law enforcement officers, as concerns have been raised about the accuracy of the new method of testing.
For example, marijuana stays in a person’s system longer than alcohol does, sometimes up to a month, which means it will be difficult for authorities to determine if the person was actually under the influence or impaired at the time of the arrest.
Also, people with different body types and compositions could also test higher for THC than others, since THC is stored in fat cells, which could make it difficult for states to establish legal limits for impairment.
Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C. If You Were Accused of Driving High in North Carolina
If you were arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana in North Carolina, you have the right to hire a lawyer to defend you. It is crucial to note that being charged with driving under the influence is not the same as a conviction. With an experienced attorney on your side, you could fight the charges against you and could possibly get them reduced or dismissed.
The North Carolina DUI defense attorneys at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., have the right skill and experience to help you. With our client-centered approach, problem-solving is at the core of how we handle all cases.
Call us today reach out to us online to discuss the specifics of your case and find out how we can mount a strong defense for you.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.