Retired Canadian Mountie Invents Marijuana Breathalyzer
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Kal Malhi, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, has teamed up with a Vancouver radiologist to co-invent a new breathalyzer that can be used in roadside sobriety tests to check for marijuana use in drivers.
Malhi spent 10 years with the RCMP, four of them working in marijuana enforcement, and has recently grown concerned with the increasing acceptance of the drug with local and even federal governments. With its increased societal acceptance has come the notion that smoking pot and driving is relatively harmless.
“People are becoming very afraid to drink and drive nowadays because they feel that they will get caught and charged, but they’re not afraid to drug and drive because they don’t feel that law enforcement will do anything about it,” Malhi said. “Young people have no fear of driving after smoking."
Malhi collaborated with Dr. Raj Attariwala, a Vancouver-based radiology with a background in biomedical engineering to create the Cannabix Breathalyzer, a patent-pending device that its inventors say can tell if a person has used marijuana within the last two hours.
Currently, police officers rely on blood tests or mouth swabs in order to gather evidence for criminal prosecution, but both methods make it difficult to determine whether or not someone is impaired by marijuana at the time they're driving. "It's hard to prove when somebody's high on drugs," Malhi said. "The level of convictions on drugged driving is very low."
According to Malhi, the portable device acts like a blood glucose meter, with the breath sample collected in one part and fed to a second part for analysis, giving results almost immediately.
While the patents for the Cannabix Breathalyzer are still pending, Malhi and Attariwala are currently developing a prototype with a medical device manufacturer and hope to have a licensed product within six months in order to hit the market in North America.