WSU Halts Research on Pot Breathalyzer Due to Federal Haze
Washington State University has ceased researching and developing a marijuana breath test fearing a cannabis enforcement reversal by the Trump administration.
The potential backlash from the federal government is a risk WSU is not willing to take at this time. For the research to be effective, it has to be tested on live subjects, not just saliva mixed with THC compounds in a lab. Real people bring their own set of unique criteria which ultimately alters the starting point of the test.
It is not realistic for this research to continue given the climate surrounding the issue on many levels, there is just too much liability and risk of losing federal funding for other projects.
Researchers hoped the breathalyzer project, which began in 2010, would help officers detect tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. That would allow law enforcement to test the intoxication of drivers under the influence of marijuana.
However, WSU fired the pre-emptive strike by scrubbing their own mission, for now. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era guidance that allowed states to legalize marijuana without the Feds sticking their nose in all of it.
Some devices have been concocted that can detect the chemical compounds on the breath but are too large and bulky to fit into a police car, and the processing of the results is far too time consuming.
Halting the research at WSU has a slow, negative ripple effect as other entities looking into similar developments have been using the data provided by WSU in their own experiments.
There have been advancements elsewhere, but WSU researchers say that data does not take into consideration long-term baseline users and/or the actual potency of the marijuana. Lab samples seem to be substantially lower in THC content than what would be purchased anywhere other than what was used in the lab.