Cannabis Breathalyzers: Here to Stay or Blowing Through?

Earlier last month, Oklahoma’s Legislature passed a bill requiring the Department of Public Safety to spend $300,000 on a pilot program aimed at testing a cannabis breathalyzer to determine whether patients of Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program may be driving impaired.

Currently, law enforcement can only test for marijuana using a sample of an individual’s blood, hair, or urine, but traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis that gives the high feeling, can remain in such samples for weeks. Therefore, these tests are ineffective in determining whether that individual is impaired at the time the sample is taken. 

Oklahoma is reportedly considering using a THC breathalyzer from Hounds Labs, a breath technology company located in California. Hounds Labs claims to have developed a breathalyzer that accurately and rapidly measures both recent cannabis use and alcohol use in an individual’s breath. Hounds Labs says these breathalyzers can determine whether a person has smoked or consumed cannabis within hours of the test, which is commonly considered to be the peak window of impairment. While Oklahoma has set a limit to determine alcohol impairment, no such agreed upon limit has been set for THC. 

Under Oklahoma’s cannabis breathalyzer pilot program, participation by drivers would be voluntary, and the results would not be admissible in court or lead to enforcement action. The Department of Public Safety would gather and use the data to work out next steps based on the findings. Eventually, if this bill is signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, the Department of Public Safety will be required to promulgate rules and regulations to implement this pilot program.

Could this dual-testing breathalyzer of cannabis and alcohol limits become mainstream for states throughout the country? Only time and verifiable data will tell; however, much more research and testing will be required before any definite rules or laws relating to this new technology get implemented. 

As cannabis and hemp lawyers, the lawyers at Ritter Spencer Cheng are prepared to advise your hemp or cannabis business in all facets of the industry, including formation and transactional issues and in cannabis litigation. Contact Ritter Spencer Cheng or give us a call at 214.295.5070 for more information.