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Marijuana Breath Tests in Development

December 23, 2014

I’ve long said that the new frontier of DUI defense is going to be marijuana-centric.

As marijuana has become legal in some parts of the country for medicinal and recreational use, it has left law enforcement officials without a proper tool to gauge impairment from drivers they suspect just smoked and drove stoned.

But according to a recent story in the International Business Times, such a tool may soon be available.

A Canadian company, Cannabix Technologies, is currently testing and patenting a breath test that law enforcement officials can use to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

The company told IBM that it expects to complete a prototype by February, and that the government wants to push it for approval in the field this summer.

According to the story, Cannabix Technologies officials said, “The device will not only tell law enforcement officers whether someone smoked weed in the past three hours, making it easier for them to obtain convictions, but also exonerate people who are not actually impaired but still contain a baseline of THC in their bloodstream.” (See cited website below.)

This Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer isn’t so sure. Breathalyzers testing for alcohol are notoriously inaccurate – and they’ve been around since 1954. So, I’m not sold on the concept that it will be ready for use as evidence in a court of law any time soon.

But even experts quoted in the story agree: While Cannabix Technologies may complete a workable prototype by February, but even if the government approves their use, it won’t be widespread – at least at first.

The technology, after all, must be rolled out and purchased at the local level, and dedicating the (significant) funds to purchase new police equipment is always a difficult process for municipalities already struggling with rising costs and, in some cases, a waning tax base.

Regardless, the legal community or to be precise, all the Pittsburgh DUI Lawyers need to be ready for what I can only expect to be a deluge of cases involving people accused of being high while behind the wheel if and when this technology hits squad cars.

In Pennsylvania, possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana are all punishable offenses with chances of serious penalties being levied on you, if convicted and proved to be guilty. Possession of an amount less than 30 grams is considered to be a misdemeanor and punishable by either a jail time of maximum 30 days and/or $500 fine. More than 30 grams of marijuana will convict you with felony charges which involves about a year of imprisonment and possible fines up to $1,000. And to get rid of such charges or penalties, the only way is to meet a Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer.

If you have been convicted of marijuana related charges or feel that you are being held as a suspect for marijuana trafficking or cultivation, immediately contact a Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer, who is reliable and reputed enough to handle your case.

Source: International Business Times

Update: June 20, 2019

Since I first wrote this blog post, a lot has changed in the world of marijuana laws. The drug was legalized for medical use in April 2016. Full implementation of the law occurred in February 2018. There is a list of approximately twenty medical conditions for which pot is now allowed to be prescribed, though only in certain forms – which do not include smoked.

A woman in Ohio is creating a device that will do what the top part of this article describes – measure the level of marijuana in a person’s breath. The device, for now referred to as the Cannibuster, is nearing the testing phase, and law enforcement officials across the state have expressed an interest in it.

Back here in the Commonwealth, a push has begun to decriminalize the recreational smoking of pot. Cities like Harrisburg have already reduced the criminal penalties for people caught with small amounts of the drug in their possession.

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