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New Canadian Study Shows Widespread Drugged Driving -- CFN Media

SEATTLE, Aug. 14, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CFN Media Group (“CFN Media”), the leading agency and financial media network dedicated to the North American cannabis industry, announces publication of an article discussing Cannabix Technologies Inc. (CSE: BLO) (OTC: BLOZF), which has been diligently developing its Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer, steadily advancing the device toward the eventual goal of entering the market with an accurate, non-invasive and convenient way to test for marijuana use.

Statistics Canada conducted a survey this spring and found that 14% of cannabis users with a driver’s license reported driving within two hours of cannabis use at least once in the prior three months, while 5% of the overall population reported riding in vehicles driven by someone who had used cannabis in the two hours prior to driving. At the same time, Canada is set to approve the use of a roadside saliva test for drug use that has demonstrated accuracy issues, especially in cold conditions. There are also concerns about the relatively invasive and time-consuming test violating citizens’ Charter rights, which could lead to lengthy legal challenges. The test appears to be an imperfect solution to a pressing public safety issue made all the more urgent in light of Canada’s pending nationwide legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Breath vs. Saliva

Many of the issues surrounding the saliva test center on the invasiveness of the procedure (police swab the suspect’s mouth for a couple of minutes) as well as the time needed (10-15 minutes from the beginning of the procedure to the results). Courts have already decided that the timely harvesting of a person’s breath, and the quick results of the test, are in line with individuals’ rights to privacy and due process. Upon implementation of the new saliva test, many expect court challenges based on at least those two issues. Substantial concerns have also been raised around police safety as officers would be required to be in close physical proximity to drivers for about ten minutes while the saliva testing was taking place. Considering the precedent set by alcohol breathalyzers, Cannabix’s Marijuana Breathalyzer would likely avoid those hurdles should the technology be approved.

Another concern is the accuracy of the tests. A study of 300 Norwegian drivers tested with both the saliva test and a blood test showed a discrepancy of about 14% between the two methods. With the blood test considered more accurate, the saliva test returned about 14% false-negatives as well as about 14% false positives. In Australia, authorities estimated the saliva test’s accuracy at about 66%. Accuracy is impaired in cold and hot weather as well, with the saliva test’s temperature range listed between four and 40 degrees Celsius. Anyone familiar with Canadian winters knows tests that don’t consistently work in even mildly cold weather pose problems.

Cannabix is using mass spectrometry (MS) related technology known as field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) to ensure accuracy in all conditions. Without getting too technical, MS is the gold standard technology for determining the molecular makeup of sample substances, relying on each molecule’s unique mass-to-charge ratio. Ion-mobility spectrometry identifies substances by the mobility of the ions within. The two can be combined to present a very accurate profile of the sample, especially when calibrated to seek out specific molecules such as THC or its metabolites.

Cannabix has been developing its prototype breathalyzer for research and pilot testing and eventual commercial use. Over the last several months, the company has been developing a device that can achieve a high level of sensitivity to detect THC and related metabolized forms of THC in order to establish a recent use of cannabis from breath samples. The goal is to provide law enforcement and workplaces with a reliable, non-invasive device to help determine a driver’s cannabis impairment.

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Frank Lane

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 09:12