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New study suggests 'marijuana breathalyzers' meant to bust stoned drivers won't work 

click to enlarge Danielle McCartney is lead author of a new study casting doubt on how well breathalyzers could ever test for THC intoxication. - COURTESY PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
  • Courtesy Photo / University of Sydney
  • Danielle McCartney is lead author of a new study casting doubt on how well breathalyzers could ever test for THC intoxication.

As cannabis legalization sweeps the U.S., police have sought ways to bust drivers who are too high to get behind the wheel. Among the ideas bandied about: breathalyzer-style devices for detecting THC intoxication.

However, a new Australian study first reported on by Forbes suggests that such a device may end up being a law-enforcement pipe dream.


The analysis, conducted by researchers with Australia's University of Sydney, found that both blood and oral THC residue are bad and inconsistent at showing marijuana-related impairment. And that appears to nix the idea of using a breathalyzer-style device to catch stoned drivers.

“Of course, this does not suggest there is no relationship between THC intoxication and driving impairment,” said lead author Danielle McCartney of the school's Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. “It is showing us that using THC concentration in blood and saliva are inconsistent markers for such intoxication.”

Even so, the study, published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Review, has "implications for the application of drug-driving laws globally," according to a University of Sydney news release.

In other words, it may be quite a while before anyone who's downed an edibles or huffed down a couple bong hits has to say, "Hell, no, I won't blow."

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