One breathalyzer that can help detect cannabis-related impairment in drivers may be available for use as early as next year.
Hound Labs in Northern California has created a breathalyzer that can detect if someone is under the influence of cannabis up to three hours after consuming, which Hound Labs Co-founder and CEO Mike Lynn says is the time frame when drivers are the most impaired. Lynn cited statistics that indicate 14.8 million Americans get behind the wheel one hour after consuming cannabis. The device, dubbed “The Hound,” has been in development for six years and completed its second clinical trial earlier this year at the University of California, San Francisco.
“In our trials, we discovered that THC rapidly moves from blood into breath and consistently appears in breath in very low concentrations for two to three hours,” said UCSF Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and co-director of the Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory at San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Kara Lynch. “The ability to capture breath and measure such low concentrations of molecules represents a significant breakthrough and we hope to continue to collaborate with Hound Labs on clinical studies to advance the field of breath diagnostics.”
Lynn also suggests that The Hound will also be used in the workplace as drug tests may test if cannabis was consumed as much as a month before, but have no way of establishing an employee was high on test day. The breathalyzer can be used for jobs such as construction, where workers may have to operate heavy machinery.
“We have spoken with law enforcement agencies and large employers, and from our perspective, there’s a huge, untapped market and unmet needs for something like this,” said Howard Goodwin, principal at Intrinsic Capital Partners.
The Hound is expected the retail for $5,000 a unit and each test will require a $20 one-time use cartridge. Canadian start-up SannTek has a device with similar capabilities that it hopes to have reach the market at the same time.