420 with CNW — Future Cannabis Impairment Testing May Rely on Brain Scans
Legalizing cannabis has brought forth a ton of benefits: the state-legal industry has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, generated billions of dollars in revenue and filled state coffers with billions of cannabis tax dollars. This money has been used to fund plenty of social-equity programs designed to help the underprivileged as well as communities that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. However, making recreational cannabis legal has made traffic policing much more difficult.
While we have a relatively accurate way of testing how drunk an individual is, no such test exists for cannabis. At best, current tests can tell whether or not you have cannabis in your system, not your level of intoxication. Since THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana can stay in your blood for up to 36 hours and in saliva for up to 48 hours, a joint that you smoked over the weekend could realistically show up in a THC test on Monday night as you leave work.
This is far from ideal. With lawmakers considering federal cannabis legislation, the traffic police will need an accurate means of determining a driver’s level of THC intoxication. Based on a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital, this technology may be based on brain scans. After scanning and analyzing the brain activity of 169 cannabis users before and after giving them either THC or a placebo, the researchers found that by scanning patients’ brains, they could reliably identify those who were intoxicated by determining the presence of THC.
The participants who got THC and reported that they were intoxicated displayed a specific brain activity signature, the researchers say. On the other hand, the participants who received the placebo and reported no intoxication did not exhibit this signature. Finally, the researchers used this data to train computers to recognize the specific brain signature and were able to match participants who self-reported feeling intoxicated with those who were “clinically assessed” as being impaired with 76% efficiency.
The Center for Addictive Medicine’s doctor Jodie Gilman says that while this technology definitely needs more research, the center believes it would be an objective and practical solution to the current THC testing problem. At the moment, available breathalyzer tests only show the presence of THC, not the level of THC impairment; the two are completely different things. Consequently, Gilman says, we are sorely in need of a THC testing method that checks for impairment and doesn’t penalize people for simply using cannabis.
When such an accurate test for marijuana impairment is developed, the entire cannabis sector, including industry players such as BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) could gladly support any action taken to keep impaired people off our roads.
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