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Scientists Find Basis for Reliable Marijuana Breathalyzer
Author: Jeff Hale 10/07/2017 - 23:57:00

Research scientists believe they are one significant step closer to developing reliable marijuana breathalyzer technology suitable for roadside intoxication tests. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recently announced the results of a study on the fundamental physical properties of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that could change the way law enforcement and the judicial system measure and enforce marijuana intoxication for years to come. 

Published in Forensic Chemistry, the study shows how NIST researchers measured the vapor pressure of THC — something that’s proven difficult to accomplish in the past due to the relatively large size and complexity of the THC molecule. 

“Vapor pressure describes how a compound behaves when it transitions from a liquid to a gas,” said Tara Lovestead, a NIST chemical engineer and the lead author of the study. “That’s what happens in your lungs when a molecule leaves the blood to be exhaled in your breath. So if you want to accurately measure blood levels based on breath, you need to know the vapor pressure.”

Traditional breath analyzers used to “estimate” blood alcohol content (BAC) from a sample breath take a precise measure of the ethyl alcohol molecule. Once alcohol has been consumed, it is absorbed into the oxygenated bloodstream via the small intestine and passes through small air sacs in the lungs where it (ethyl alcohol molecule) can be expelled with a breath and measured. 

More on marijuana.com:Scientists Find Basis for Reliable Marijuana Breathalyzer


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