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The "potalyzer": Detecting marijuana intoxication with saliva samples

If you have read our February blog post that provided an update on potential changes coming to Florida's marijuana laws, you can add HB 307 to the list of Florida laws that relate to marijuana possession. This past March, Gov. Rick Scott signed into legislation HB 307, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana for select circumstances. Additionally, registered voters in Florida will be able show their support this November for Amendment 2, legislation that supports the creation of a medical marijuana program in Florida.

In the event that the legislation effectively expands Floridians' rights to smoke marijuana, law enforcement officials are searching for tools that can quickly and effectively detect an individual's level of drug intoxication. Such a machine is now being marketed as a "potalyzer." Developed in Stanford University, this device uses saliva to detect levels of THC, the main ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for providing the drug's mind-altering effects. In addition to obtaining a sample in a manner that is less invasive than drawing blood or collecting urine, this new device utilitzes properties of saliva can precisely reveal how much THC is in the driver's system.

Using the device, police officers can scan a sample and have the results of the scan within three minutes. With the help of sensors, the tool can isolate THC molecules that are in the saliva. It can then determine the level of marijuana intoxication in the suspect's system. The "potalyzer" can also be adapted to locate components of other illicit drugs in the body using the same methodology.

The takeaway from this new device is that technology does exist to monitor levels of intoxication in a person's system. If it is legal for you to smoke pot, know the statutes about driving while under the influence of drugs. There may be a time when officers will be able to determine not only that an individual is under the influence of drugs but also know the level of intoxication.

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