Washington State University researchers claim that they are not too far away from making a portable breath test for police to use and detect if a person has recently smoked marijuana. There are already breathalyzers to find out whether or not a driver has drank alcohol yet none exist to test drivers for marijuana use, Herbert Hill, a WSU chemistry professor working on the project, said. According to Hill, his research team has finished its initial testing the marijuana detector and has even made improvements. The project team is even about to begin another round of testing and Hill said that he hopes that police will be able to use the project as early as next year.

“For it to be used to help the arresting officer make a decision I hope is about a year away,” stated Hill on Tuesday.

Hill’s next update scheduled this week to state lawmakers on the breathalyzer projected at the meeting of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. State Senator Mike Padden is the committee chairman and said that state officials are extremely interested in a device that would help police detain someone more accurately when pulling them over. Police would still need to get a warrant to draw blood in order to determine whether or not the person falls under the legal definition of impairment. Being such a hassle, it would be much more convenient that a breathalyzer detects marijuana impairment rather than the field sobriety tests that officers currently use according to Padden.

“This would be a more accurate test for them to determine whether someone is impaired, and combined with other evidence, whether they need to make an arrest,” Padden stated.

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