A device developed by graduates of the University of Waterloo could do a double task, detecting both alcohol and marijuana
The new Ontario-based company is developing a cannabis or THC meter for the US police.
The device, which can detect both alcohol and cannabis, has attracted the attention of Y Combinator, based in California.
The recent discovery of this company is the THC Tetrahydrocanabinol breathalyzer and detector, known as Sanntek 315, which is a device developed by SannTek Labs Inc., based in Kitchener, Ontario. This new device has been developed by two engineering graduates of the University of Waterloo. SannTek Labs is using the latest in nanotechnology to develop a lightweight and portable device that is much more accurate, more robust and especially much less invasive than the current system based on saliva and blood analysis.
According to the National Cannabis Survey that was published by Statistics Canada in August 2018, it is estimated that about 1.4 million Canadians have ridden in a vehicle driven by a driver who had used cannabis in the two hours prior to driving the car.
At present it is very difficult to detect exactly the amount of THC consumed, compared to alcohol, since THC is fat soluble and less soluble in blood. According to the official website of Velocity, an entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo, in its 2017 report it assured that a cannabis consumer can have THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in their muscle tissue for a long time without being high, which makes much more difficult to know precisely the level of the effect on the ability to drive a vehicle.
The only device currently approved in Canada for the detection of THC and other drugs used on the road is the Dräger DrugTest 5000, which analyzes samples of oral fluids. Another device called SoToxa, created by Abbott Laboratories, is awaiting approval for use in Canada, and like Dräger, it is based on an analysis of oral fluids.
In contrast, the new device developed by the two engineering graduates of the University of Waterloo has a sensor that is based on breathing. The police only have to make the driver blow through the device, much like a breathalyzer, which is less invasive than the procedure of rubbing saliva and, in addition, is much faster.
The new device detects THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis related to driving difficulties, through the molecules in the driver’s breath. According to its creators, the device can accurately determine the amount of THC that a person has consumed in the last three or four hours.
As we say, the device is designed to detect the Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) since it is taken for granted that this cannabinoid is the cause of the negative effects for driving vehicles. Police say that if people drive with high concentrations of THC in their body, their psychomotor skills decrease considerably.
Although not yet available for sale, each device is expected to come out for a price that ranges between 800 and 1000 dollars. In order for the police to approve the purchase of the devices, the National Road Traffic Safety Association approves the purchase. According to reports, SannTek is in talks with the police.