Cannabis breathalyzer on the horizon?

Smoking a weed joint by Elsa Olofsson

Smoking a weed joint by Elsa OlofssonNicolas Jose Rodriguez of Benzinga Cannabis shared news from the American Association for the Advancement of Science that researchers are developing the equivalent of a breathalyzer for detecting marijuana in a person’s system:

At the moment, the gold standard for detecting marijuana usage is to measure THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, in the blood or urine. But those tests can take days to process and unlike alcohol, THC can linger in the bloodstream for days, said Hakho Lee, Ph.D., director of the Biomedical Engineering Program at Harvard University and senior author of the new study, as reported per the AAAS.

There are some existing saliva tests for THC, but they are limited by issues like slow processing time or giving “binary” results (yes/no). To enable quick on-site THC quantification, the scientists behind the research developed a rapid assay for oral THC analysis called EPOCH, which is similar to a breathalyzer and allows assay completion within 5 minutes.

…The researchers eventually plan to expand their test to detect drugs, such as oxycodone and other synthetic opioids.

More at Benzinga & if you want to drill down, head over to the AAAS for a deeper dive into how EPOCH uses an optical sensor to detect THC in saliva where its presence correlates more closely with immediate cannabis use than in blood or urine.

photo credit: Smoking a weed joint by Elsa Olofsson