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Researchers invent tool that detects THC levels in drivers

New York residents might want to know that a new device that detects THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in a driver's saliva was invented by Stanford University researchers. Since marijuana has been legalized in over 20 states and more are set to vote on this issue in November, the "potalyzer" device was created to help officers perform field tests on drivers suspected of marijuana impairment.

According to reports, the new device could detect THC concentrations of 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva. The researchers used magnetic nanotechnology to find THC molecules in saliva. If present, THC antibodies would bind to the molecules, and the number of bound antibodies would tell the device how much THC was present in the sample of saliva. Since the tool has over 80 sensors, the researchers say that the device could be used to detect other substances like morphine, cocaine and heroin. So far, the Stanford team has seen promising results after screening for morphine.

The researchers chose to focus on saliva because it seems to show a better correlation of marijuana impairment than in blood or urine. Testing would also be less invasive since an officer would just need to collect a swab of a driver's saliva rather than go down to a lab. Before the device can be approved by regulators, however, states would need to set a limit allowing THC in a driver's saliva, and more tests would need to be performed to ensure its accuracy.

If an individual is facing DWI charges, that person may want to speak to an attorney to determine his or her options. A lawyer could look over the results of any sobriety tests that were performed in order to ensure they were administered correctly. A legal professional could also negotiate with the prosecution for reduced penalties if it is not possible to have the case dropped.

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