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Police Want To Use “Potalyzers” To Check For Cannabis DUI’s

Police now have the technology to test of THC in saliva during roadside traffic stops, but some issues are leading to questions about the device.


Every cannabis users worst fear is about to realize. Researchers have developed a roadside tool for police to check for drivers who are under the influence of cannabis. However, the new technology is not full-proof and poses a lot of questions about its use. It’s likely these testers will hit the streets sometime soon, and when they do, how can we really trust their results?

The device

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Stanford University researchers have developed a device, similar to a Breathalyzer, which will help police detect drivers who have been using cannabis.

By adapting magnetic nanotechnology, that was developed to help doctors detect cancer, researchers were able to create bio-sensors within the tool that are able to detect THC molecules and levels within a person’s saliva.

After an officer collects the saliva, he or she will be able to use the device to test the spit. Results will appear within three minutes on a laptop or smartphone. If the results are too high, or the driver is too high rather, police will have the right to arrest and charge individuals with a life-altering DUI.

While this technology is being marketed as a tool to keep dangerous drivers off the road, according to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who have recently used cannabis are much more likely to drive with caution.

In fact, researchers found that drivers who tested positive for cannabis were no more likely to crash than drivers who had never used cannabis or alcohol.

Reading results

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The real question about this new device is, how will the results be calculated and read? Just like with alcohol DUIs, police intend to set a legal limit on the amount of THC that can be present in a driver’s saliva.

That exact number is causing some speculation among people who want to know precisely how much a driver would be able to smoke before being over the limit.

The device is capable of detecting 0 – 50 nanograms of THC per milliliter of saliva, a pretty wide range, where the difference in nanograms can have vastly different effects on each individual user.

As of right now, there are still no definitive answers as to how much THC is too much for a driver, but Colorado, a state with legal and recreational cannabis use, has set their limit at 5 nanograms per milliliter.

Carl Hart, a Columbia University psychologist, tries to explain the issue with this test in the simplest way possible.

Typically, if you have five nanograms in a regular smoker, you probably won’t see any behavioral effects. Whereas, with five nanograms in someone who’s never smoked, you might see a lot of effects.

Researcher and developers of this new “potalyzer” might not want to believe the facts, but drivers who use cannabis are not causing any heightened risk to other drivers out on the road.

Despite the propaganda that has been spread on the issue, science is helping to dismiss previously believed lies, and shedding light on the reality that cannabis does not cause impaired motor vehicle skills.

Do you think cannabis impairs driving? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment section below.

September 18, 2016 — Last Updated
Written by Dee Giznik

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September 18, 2016 — Last Updated
Written by Dee Giznik

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