In a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder, researchers made strides in analyzing the presence of THC in the breath of cannabis smokers. THC is the intoxicating component of cannabis.

The study sought to develop a protocol that would yield reproducible results in an attempt to find a reliable field-based breathalyzer for cannabis.

While developing such a device is far more challenging than for alcohol due to the nature of THC-carrying aerosol particles, this research represents a crucial step toward ensuring road safety and accurately identifying impaired drivers. 

“One key question that we cannot yet answer is whether breath measurements can be used to distinguish between a person who uses cannabis regularly but hasn’t done so lately, and someone who consumed an hour ago,” said NIST supervisory chemical engineer and study author Tara Lovestead. “Having a reproducible protocol for breath measurements will help us and other researchers answer that question.” 

Challenges of Cannabis Breathalyzer Development: Unlike alcohol, THC is carried within small aerosol particles in the breath, making it difficult to accurately measure its content. This poses a significant challenge in the development of a cannabis breathalyzer. …

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