The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that marijuana breathalyzers may finally hit the streets in 2020 after years of research.
The breath test, named "The Hound," will be able to detect marijuana in the system if it has been smoked or ingested within the last three hours—known as "the peak impairment window."
Created by Hound Labs in Northern California, investors are banking on a "massive market" for the breath test, known as the Hound. The venture was undertaken in conjunction with San Francisco and Berkeley University of California and sponsored by Intrinsic Capital Partners, a Philadelphia growth equity fund, which will sell for about $5,000 per unit.
According to Dr. Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs, the Hound—which doubles as an alcohol breathalyzer—will be able to detect marijuana in the system if it has been smoked or ingested within the last three hours, known as "the peak impairment window."
"The fundamental challenge is that THC exists in breath in concentrations that are something like a billion times less than alcohol," Lynn, a veteran emergency department physician, and reserve deputy sheriff told Digital Trends. " Which means that if you are going to use it for cannabis, you need a breathalyzer that is basically a billion times more efficient. It's like finding 25 or 30 different sand grains on a well over a mile-long beach. It's a difficult research issue to solve.
Scientists at Pittsburgh University have also created a model for a marijuana breathalyzer, but it must undergo additional testing before it is ready to be manufactured and used by law enforcement, the Philly Voice reports.
Which Communities Will 'the Hound'Target?
Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in 11 states plus the District of Columbia; 33 states plus D.C. have approved medical marijuana.
Still, as ESSENCE previously reported, Black people are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts—particularly in occupied Black and Brown communities that are blatantly targeted for broken-windows policing and surveillance—despite being no more likely to smoke or ingest it.
When anti-blackness is institutionalized, a tool allegedly conceptualized to create safe environments can lead to more harm for vulnerable and targeted communities. With police officers already disproportionately targeting these communities, it stands to reason that marijuana breathalyzers would cause a spike in racially discriminatory arrests.
While history already tells us this, time will tell, with the marijuana breathalyzer expected to hit the streets in 2020.