Tuesday, May 19th 2020, 9:22 pm
By: Bonnie Campo
OKLAHOMA CITY –
The Department of Public Safety confirmed it will be testing a marijuana breathalyzer in the coming months as part of a recently approved pilot program.
Cannabis experts said early data shows that this technology will help identify drivers who consumed marijuana within a few hours of behind the wheel.
One lawmaker said it could help those who would fail a traditional sobriety or blood test.
“We all know that marijuana stays in your system longer. So, it creates a scenario where you get a DUI whether you were impaired or not,” said Scott Fetgatter (R) District 16.
He said the legislature was able to dedicate $300,000 to the pilot program.
An official with the Department of Public Safety said up to 12 months is ready to go.
The breathalyzer technology comes from California-based company, Hound Labs, which reports their breathalyzer takes data from the deep lungs.
They said they’ve been in development for the past six years.
“We have done two clinical trials that demonstrate that we can capture THC in breath,” said Doug Boxer, Hound Labs breathalyzer, Chief of Business Development and Policy.
The test is designed to be pass or fail.
Dispensary Owner Jerry Flowers of UWD in Edmond and Norman said he supports efforts to keep impaired drivers off the road and wants to know how sensitive the breathalyzer will be.
“What we are wanting to know…what is the standardized level so to speak, what is impaired versus not impaired,” said Flowers.
The goal, according to advocates, is to identify drivers who have smoked cannabis within a 2 to 3-hour timeframe, or those who’ve consumed edible marijuana up to four or five hours later.
If the pilot program is successful, the plan would need to go back to the state legislature.
Under current law, alcohol is the only substance allowed to be tested by breath.
If it is eventually signed into law, independent law enforcement departments would need to find ways to fund the breathalyzers in their own jurisdictions.