Engineers at York University in Toronto have developed a new device to detect cannabis in the body.
The technology uses a laser and a smartphone-sized infrared camera to measure the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive molecule in cannabis, in an individual’s saliva.
According to the team that developed the technology, this new way of screening cannabis use can provide test results in less than 10 minutes, faster and more accurately than what is currently on the market.
“Our laboratory evaluations of the system have shown that it gives a minimal number of false-positive or false-negative results. According to the professor from the Lassonde School of Engineering, the development of this test has more credibility.
Health Canada’s 2019 Canadian Cannabis Survey found that among respondents who had used cannabis in the past 12 months, 26 percent reported driving a vehicle within two hours of smoking or vaporizing cannabis.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) data, there were 138 cannabis-related deaths in Ontario in 2014.
A better tool than what Canada’s police use?
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) currently uses a tool called Dräger at their roadside checks, which detects cannabis residue in the oral cavity.
Dr. Tabatabaei believes his tool is more accurate and faster than the Dräger test because its technology can detect much lower THC concentrations, is more convenient to transport, and can provide results more quickly.
Considering its potential use in the field by law enforcement, Dr. Tabatabaei’s team designed the screening tool to be smaller and more mobile than the Dräger system, which weighs 4.5 kg and must be installed on a table.
Like the new technology unveiled by the York University researchers, the Dräger tool only shows cannabis in the mouth. Still, it does not directly prove that an individual being tested is intoxicated.
As for the possibility of the OPP using the new tool developed by Dr. Tabatabaei’s team, OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt confirmed that it is up to the government to test and verify the reliability of new devices coming to market. Until then, we will not use any other devices.
Cannabis can be found for long enough as traces in the human body according to Ganja Times.
A technology that can be used in the fight against Covid
The York University research team is actively pursuing the commercialization of its discovery. Dr. Tabatabaei believes that this technology can detect a large number of molecules, which go beyond THC.
Our technology is a platform that allows accurate reading of rapid tests. It can detect different types of molecules: THC is just one, and COVID-19 is another,” says Tabatabaei.