Oklahoma lawmakers last week approved a bill requiring the Department of Public Safety to spend $300,000 on creating a pilot program for breathalyzers that test for cannabis impairment, the Oklahoman reports. Under the program, the results of the test would not be admissible in courts.
Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R) said that the state has “a lot of problems when it comes to medical marijuana and DUI laws and determining impairment” but that participation in the program would be voluntary and the results should not be used in a punitive manner.
Rep. Ross Ford (R) described it as a “trial program to make sure the system works.”
Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Sarah Stewart told the Oklahoman that it could take up to a year for the pilot program to be operational because the agency has to come up with program rules and may end up having to bid out that work. She indicated that officials will want to see if other states have done similar pilot programs.
The state is reportedly considering using a THC breathalyzer from California-based Hound Labs. CEO Mike Lynn told KGOU that their device can accurately detect cannabis use within the last two hours.
“When you find THC in breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours. And we don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.” – Lynn in a KGOU interview
Police in California trialed a Hound Labs device in 2016. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has supported the use of THC breathalyzers and in Vermont, the DUI issue has been a sticking point by lawmakers before moving into a taxed-and-regulated market.