New research factors to a alternative for hashish breathalyzers

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The device in question would be designed to be portable and non-invasive.

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Jan 17, 2022January 17, 20222 minutes read Join the conversation FILE: The Ottawa Police Service conducts MEGA Ride at Innes Road on Oct.  18, 2018. / FILE: The Ottawa Police Service conducts MEGA Ride at Innes Road on Oct. 18, 2018. / Photo by James Park /Postmedia

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Researchers may have found a non-invasive way of determining whether or not THC has resulted in impairment.

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This reported discovery, detailed in a study conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and published in Neuropsychopharmacology, could provide an answer for incidents of cannabis-related driving under the influence (DUI). And this, in turn, may provide a pathway for the best course of action in these situations.

According to The Harvard Gazette, investigators used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which measures brain patterns, and researchers then correlated this to THC impairment.

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The device in question would be designed to be portable and non-invasive, allowing people to use it on the go to measure THC impairment.

The study had 169 cannabis users consume THC or a placebo and then submit themselves to fNIRS scans. Those who had consumed cannabis showed higher levels of neural activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain when compared to those given a placebo.

“Our research represents a novel direction for impairment testing in the field,” said lead author Jodi Gilman, associate professor at Harvard University and investigator in the Center for Addiction Medicine. “Our goal was to determine if cannabis impairment could be detected from activity of the brain on an individual level. This is a critical issue because a breathalyser-type of approach will not work for detecting cannabis impairment, which makes it very difficult to objectively assess impairment from THC during a traffic stop.”

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A cannabis breathalyzer has long been the gold standard that researchers have been working towards. A recent study indicated these devices were not particularly helpful in accurately measuring THC impairment, particularly because they detect the presence of the compound in saliva, which may prove inconsistent and is not indicative of impairment while driving or operating machinery.

“Someone who’s experienced with cannabis might show the same levels of THC in their blood as someone who’s inexperienced with it. These two people will likely have completely different responses to the drug and how impaired they are by it,” The Fresh Toast reported in a previous article.

While further study is needed to devise a product that’s capable of generating these scans on the go, the study’s findings are a necessary first step toward, hopefully, preventing roadside accidents and ensuring workplace safety.

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The FreshToast.com, a US lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.

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