With cannabis legalization sweeping across North America after decades of prohibition, there are some natural concerns surrounding the introduction of the drug to the legal marketplace. In the area of safety, most of the questions have surrounded the issue of impaired driving. One topic that hasn’t gotten a lot of press is that of workplace safety. The most widely-used, current workplace testing solution involves urinalysis, a cumbersome process that is often applied to screen applicants but is not necessarily practical for the detection of recent use on a regular basis.
Cannabix Technologies Inc. (CSE: BLO) (OTC: BLOZF) is actively developing the Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer, designed for roadside use by law enforcement officials. The company recently announced the licensing of patent-pending technology, developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), that will be focused to offer a cannabis testing solution for workplace and even parental use. Recognizing that the requirements of potential end users vary greatly, Cannabix is looking to offer flexible solutions to meet the needs of a variety of markets.
Workplace Safety and Cannabis
In general, there is still much to be learned from scientific research into cannabis. This is an unsurprising side effect of nearly a century of cannabis prohibition, which greatly limited research on the plant. However, there is growing research that points to workplace issues surrounding cannabis.
A study of postal workers from 1992 showed that employees who tested positive for marijuana in pre-employment screening had significantly more accidents, injuries, and absenteeism compared with those who tested negative. Another study from 2010 pointed to the shortcomings of relying on pre-employment drug screening as a tool to improve workplace safety. Major conclusions included the fact that recent cannabis use (within 4 hours) led to impairment, something that urinalysis screening would not catch. Additionally, urinalysis was not shown to have a meaningful impact on job accident rates.
Parents have their own set of concerns. A 2008 study found that heavy adolescent use of marijuana negatively impacts attention, memory, and learning. A longitudinal study published in 2004 showed a correlation between cannabis use and lower educational attainment. As we have seen with the recent college admissions scandal, there are definitely pressures to do whatever it takes to help children succeed. Being able to conveniently test for marijuana use probably lies at the least invasive, ethically clean end of the spectrum of potential parental actions.
Marijuana Breathalyzer technologies
Cannabix Technologies recognizes the varying needs of the wide range of its potential clients as it develops reliable and portable cannabis testing units. As a first step, the company knows that everyone would prefer a test that doesn’t have to be sent to a lab to analyze results. The breathalyzer model is universally preferred as well, when compared to tests that require the collection of bodily fluids. From that basis, needs start to diverge.
Roadside breathalyzers need to work in all manner of environmental conditions, be rugged and accurate, returning results that will eventually hold up in court. Workplace and parental users will usually be operating in much more controlled environments, and the scrutiny of the results will usually not rise to the level of court proceedings. There is price sensitivity between the markets as well. Employers want to know if someone can safely do their job, and parents want to know if their child has been smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel of the family car.
The Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer uses field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) technology to detect THC from breath samples. FAIMS is an analytical chemistry technology that filters and identifies substances by separating ions. It has the ability to connect directly with Mass Spectrometry technology to confirm its highly sensitive roadside results in the lab, improving the chance that the results stand up in the courts. The THC Breath Analyzer utilizes lower-cost yet highly-effective, versatile, microfluidic sensors that can provide results quickly and cost efficiently.
As with any product company, Cannabix is analyzing the needs of its potential target markets and developing products with features to match those markets. The recent licensing announcement greatly expands the company’s potential client base, and the company expects the resulting THC Breath Analyzer to be available for expanded testing soon, so keep an eye out for further developments as Cannabix Technologies does its part to solve some of the public safety concerns surrounding cannabis use behind the wheel, on the job, and amongst adolescents.
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