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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Future may bring marijuana breathalyzers to Washington

Scientists with the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been working on the problem of finding an easy way to detect when a driver is under the influence of marijuana. A legitimate roadside breathalyzer test that could determine if a person is driving while intoxicated by THC, the main chemical in marijuana, would be useful to police officers.

While a new breathalyzer test for marijuana has not yet been created, authors of a recent NIST study are the first to discover the vapor pressure of THC. This knowledge could be a necessary building block for constructing a valid roadside breathalyzer. Vapor pressure provides information about the behavior of a chemical when it moves from a liquid state to a vapor state. This is the process that occurs in the human body when THC is ingested.

The next piece of information that scientists must discover is the correlation between THC in the blood and in the breath. If they can give an accurate account of how much THC is in the blood by measuring how much is in the breath, this would help in the creation of a breathalyzer. Law enforcement professionals could then determine whether stopped motorists have enough of the chemical in their blood to be considered intoxicated.

When driver has been charged with a DWI or a DUI, they might choose to call a defense attorney. A lawyer could help by working to get a client's fine reduced or by defending a client in a court of law.

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