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Okanagan-developed marijuana breathalyzer with an artificial nose ready for testing

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A marijuana breathalyzer with a 3D-printed artificial nose developed by UBC Okanagan researchers is ready for testing.

The artificial nose stored inside the handheld breathalyzer is designed to detect THC on the breath, said Mina Hoorfar, UBC Okanagan’s engineering director and professor.

The device is a tool to indicate impairment, but similar to a roadside alcohol-testing device, it would require further testing to hold up in court, Hoorfar said.

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“Never, ever is a breath analzyer going to be the gold standard measurement,” Hoorfar said.

“After a certain element is shown in the breath, they’d take the person to the station, and then they’d conduct a thorough blood test.”

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After years of development, Hoorfar is sending the marijuana breathalyzer off for testing with Cannabix Technologies.

“For us, the first way to go and commercialize this is not road safety or police, we want to use it in the workplace for employers to use or for personal use,” she said.

“Construction sites, for pilots, any place that people are trying to use their motor muscles and certain motions and they need to be tested,” she added.

Hoorfar believes the technology has potential future uses in the health field as well.

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With more research, the special breathalyzer could be used to help diagnose chronic conditions like lung cancer or metabolism-related diseases, she said.

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“We know that everything in health is now related to the gut. [We could] use the breath from the breath biomarkers to know what’s happening in your gut and your health,” she said.

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“One day, in the not so far future, we will have portable devices that can tell us if we have a particular illness, or if there are dangerous fumes in our vicinity,” Hoorfar said.

“And our team works hard every day to make that future a reality.”

Hoorfar said Cannabix Technologies is expected to test the marijuana breathalyzer by the end of the month.

She’s hoping to have the device rolled out commercially within the next year.

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