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Puff, Puff, Jail? Scientists Working On Marijuana Breath Test

When it comes to legal marijuana in Washington state, cops are forced to guess whether or not drivers are stoned behind the wheel — but they might get some help from a team working on a handheld THC detector. People have been able to buy recreational marijuana legally in the state since July. That might be good for Washington's tax coffers, but cops have been relying on blood tests when they suspect drivers have been smoking, something that can't be done on the side of the road. Now Herbert Hill, a chemistry professor at Washington State University, is working on a device that can detect THC — the chemical responsible for marijuana's mind-altering effects — in someone's breath, according to the Seattle Times. The device won't be able to tell how much THC is in somebody's blood, but it will be able to notice if it's present at all, which could help police officers know when to bring someone in to test whether they are past the legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Hill is working on a prototype now, the Seattle Times reports, and should start testing it out on human breath early next year.

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— Keith Wagstaff