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A THC "potalyzer" test developed to catch stoned drivers

As the nation continues passing and considering laws to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, the pleas for some kind of instant test to identify people driving under the influence of pot have been heard. Engineers at Stanford have developed an experimental roadside "spit test" that will identify people under the influence of marijuana.

Measuring THC in minutes

The long-standing issue with currently available marijuana tests was that they couldn't provide a test result at a moment's notice. The tests couldn't accurately and immediately measure like a breathalyzer does with alcohol intoxication. This test could potentially test users for THC, marijuana's most psychoactive component, which was previously tested with a blood or urine sample.

The Stanford test can measure THC and its concentration in the body - the small mobile device used magnetic sensors that biologically detect THC molecules in saliva. With just a cotton swab and the device, officers could test a person in only three minutes.

Currently, only a few states have set limits of THC in the blood for drivers, with some setting a limit of 0 or 5 nanograms per milliter of blood. The Standford device should be able to detect THC in levels from 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter - many studies have found between 2 and 25 nanograms per milliliter is the intoxication point.

Maryland's marijuana laws

Several states are voting this November on the issue of marijuana legalization, which could put them with the 20 other states that have already allowed several forms of pot consumption. California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts have recreational use of marijuana on their ballots this Nov. 8.

Currently, Maryland allows medical marijuana use, and has decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less. However, above that limit and up to 50 pounds is a misdemeanor offense, and over 50 pounds is a felony. Penalties range from up to 1 year of jail and up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor, and 5 years and $100,000 for a felony possession charge. But if you're charged with intent to sell, the incarceration and fines are much harsher.

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