Marijuana Breath Test Could be Alternative to Blood Test

A recent study reveals that a marijuana breath test could offer a viable alternative to the extremely controversial blood tests some states are discussing.


Our marijuana defense lawyers have seen many states enact presumptive thresholds for cannabinoids and their metabolites to combat driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Unfortunately, these tests can turn up positive for marijuana use that occurred previously and is no longer having an effect on the individual tested. If tests of this nature are relied on by the court system to catch individuals driving under the influence of marijuana then there is a significant possibility that innocent individuals will be convicted.

For these reasons it is good sign that a type of breath test for recent marijuana use is being researched and appears to be a viable alternative to blood tests.

The breath test for marijuana use would be similar to the test performed for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Marijuana advocates are not in favor of individuals operating a vehicle while using marijuana but have been apprehensive about blood testing due to its shortcomings.

The study gathered breath samples from individuals who regularly smoked marijuana and individuals who only occasionally smoked marijuana after they smoked a cigarette containing 6.8 percent THC (the active ingredient in marijuana).

The test revealed that presence of THC in the subject’s body but did not return results for the metabolites formed by the human body after THC consumption. This is an important distinction because the presence of a metabolite does not necessarily mean the individual is experiencing any effects of the marijuana or has smoked recently.

For the marijuana users in the study all smokers tested positive just under one hour after smoking marijuana but as time went on les and less samples returned positive results. By the four hour mark, only one user still registered a detectible amount of THC in the breath sample.

Breath testing is limited to a short detection window of about 30 minutes to two hours after smoking marijuana.

Depending on the strength of the marijuana consumed, the psychoactive effects wear off in about three to four hours.

According to studies, the THC blood levels peak between five and 10 minutes after inhalation and then decrease.

The results of this study are encouraging because blood tests can return positive results as much as seven days after smoking. Clearly a user is no longer stoned or impaired but could still be considered legally impaired.

The Colorado CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

More Blog Entries:

Legal Possession: Should the Odor of Marijuana Amount to Probable Cause? , December 5, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
TSA Inconsistent Policies for Passengers with Marijuana, November 26, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Additional Resources:

Breath Test May Detect Marijuana Use, December 4, 2013, By Deborah Brauser, Medscape Multipsecialty.

Cannabinoids in Exhaled Breath following Controlled Administration of Smoked Cannabis, August 28, 2013, American Association for Clinical Chemistry

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