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Measuring marijuana intoxication in drivers

South Carolina authorities may find that the future will present more instances of drivers demonstrating signs of marijuana intoxication as the substance becomes more accessible through legalization measures throughout the nation. This makes it necessary to objectively assess intoxication levels in motorists impaired by marijuana. A research team from Stanford University is developing a system that could solve this problem for not only marijuana but also for other controlled substances.

A saliva test would compare to breath testing now used to measure the blood-alcohol content of a driver in a suspected DUI situation. The sample can be obtained with a swab, which avoids the invasive nature that is involved in collecting samples of urine or blood. The sample is exposed to antibodies that react to any THC that is present. The equipment used can measure how many antibodies have become active, which can be converted to data that will be transmitted to a computer or other wireless equipment for a reading. The time needed for a reading is just a few minutes and can be completed in the field.

There are many cases in which lawyers challenge Breathalyzer results based on problems with the manner in which a test was administered. Similar challenges might be expected as a pot test is implemented in the near future. An additional point of concern for those tested will be the need to establish legal limits.

In a hypothetical situation, an individual using marijuana for medical purposes might be concerned about blood or urine testing if they are pulled over while driving and deemed to be under the influence. Legal assistance in such a scenario could be important, especially if legal limits for THC and driving are not established.

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