Now that weed is being decriminalised across the United States, a startup is trying to make it easier for cops and bosses to figure out who’s actually high on the job.
Hound Labs announced on Wednesday that it has raised $US30 ($44) million in Series D financing for the company, which is developing THC breathalyser technology aimed at helping law enforcement and employers do quick and easy drug tests.
The Hound Labs website has pages meant for both “workplaces” and “law enforcement,” which show how the company is marketing itself to both sectors. At the workplace, the breathalyser is meant to help improve work safety without doing drug tests that might penalise workers who get high when they’re not working. For cops, the device is meant to allow officers to check for driver impairment with a tool that is less invasive than tests that require bodily fluids.
Hound Labs was founded by Jenny Lynn, a former marketing executive, and her husband Mike Lynn, whose bio says he is a reserve deputy sheriff, ER physician and former venture capitalist.
Business Insider reports that the company claims it has raised $US65 ($96) million in total, including funding from Dick Wolf, producer of the TV show Law & Order.
Hound Labs told the website it plans to officially launch its dual THC and alcohol breathalyser this summer in the U.S.. Gizmodo reached out to Hound Labs about its timeline, if it is seeking FDA approval, and if it plans to allow police to test the breathalyser on their own, but we have not received a reply.
This would be the first THC breathalyser on the market. Sure, it would allow cops to check for impairment without using problematic field sobriety test or requiring urine or saliva samples, but a breathalyser that tests for weed comes with its own set of concerns about accuracy and legal implications.
A study using Hounds Labs tech published earlier this year suggests that THC can be detected in subjects’ breath after smoking weed.
But, as Business Insider points out, the study was only done on 20 people, and it was paid for by Hound. It also did not compare weed smokers with a control of non-smokers, and the results varied greatly.