Companies across the United States have been trying to manufacture a marijuana breathalyzer device similar to breath alcohol devices used to determine alcohol intoxication in order to provide a testing tool that is less invasive than urine and blood collection, the two most common methods for testing marijuana use. This type of testing device would be useful to law enforcement, employers, and drug and alcohol testing companies. However, coming up with measurements to calibrate the breathalyzer and instrumental techniques that identify and measure THC levels (the psychoactive component in marijuana) in a person’s breath have been areas of intense study as THC molecules react very differently than alcohol.

Gains are being made in learning how THC molecules can be identified through breath as a team of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working toward measuring the vapor pressure of THC. This is an important step in laying the groundwork for which future studies and products can be tested to produce accuracy in determining current marijuana intoxication.

Though this presents new ground gained in the field of drug testing, standards have yet to be published over what levels of THC in the breath will actually determine intoxication. As the NIST writes, “While this research is an important step forward, more research will still be needed to understand how breath levels of THC correlate with blood levels, and what blood levels of THC indicate that a person is too impaired to drive.”

Strides are being made toward more defined accuracy and non-invasive techniques in drug testing and future possibilities are coming into view.

To learn more about the NIST’s efforts to study vapor pressure measurements of THC, you can visit:

https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2017/07/scientists-lay-groundwork-reliable-marijuana-breathalyzer?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017-july5-tech-beat

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