Cannabis and Driving: The Role of Impairment Tests

As more and more states legalize cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, concerns about impaired driving are on the rise. However, traditional methods of cannabis impairment test (such as blood and urine tests) are not always reliable, since THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) can remain in the body for days or even weeks after consumption. Fortunately, technology is starting to offer new solutions for assessing impairment in real-time, helping to make our roads safer for everyone.

The Rise of On-Site Saliva Testing:

One promising innovation in cannabis impairment testing is the development of on-site saliva tests, which can detect THC in a person’s system within minutes. These tests work by analyzing a saliva sample for trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids. As a result, they are a much more accurate indicator of impairment than traditional urine and blood tests, which cannot distinguish between current and past cannabis use.

The Role of Wearable Technology:

Another exciting development in cannabis impairment testing is the emergence of wearable technology. Some companies are using wearable devices (such as smartwatches and fitness trackers) to monitor a person’s vital signs and detect changes in their behavior that may be indicative of impairment. For example, these devices can track changes in a person’s heart rate, breathing rate, and movement patterns, all of which can be affected by cannabis use.

The Promise of “Cannabis Breathalyzers”:

One of the most talked-about technologies for cannabis impairment testing is the development of “cannabis breathalyzers.” Like traditional breathalyzers used to detect alcohol in a person’s system, these devices analyze a person’s breath for trace amounts of THC. One of the advantages of this technology is that it can detect impairment in real-time, making it a valuable tool for law enforcement officers and employers who need to assess whether someone is fit to operate machinery or perform other tasks.

The Limitations of Current Technology:

While the development of new technologies for cannabis impairment testing is certainly promising, there are still some limitations to be aware of. For example, there is currently no agreed-upon standard for what constitutes “impairment” when it comes to cannabis use. Additionally, some of the technologies that are being developed may not be reliable in all situations (such as when a person has used edibles instead of smoking or vaping cannabis). As a result, it will likely take some time before these technologies are widely adopted and integrated into our legal and regulatory frameworks.

The Importance of Responsible Cannabis Use:

Ultimately, the future of cannabis impairment testing will depend on a combination of technological innovation and responsible behavior from cannabis users. While the development of new testing technologies is certainly a step in the right direction, it is equally important for individuals who use cannabis to be aware of its effects and to act responsibly when using it, particularly if they plan to operate a motor vehicle or perform other activities that require clear-headedness.


As more and more states around the country continue to legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, the question of how to detect and prevent impaired driving has become increasingly urgent. Thankfully, the development of new technologies (such as on-site saliva tests, wearable devices, and cannabis breathalyzers) is helping to provide new tools for assessing impairment in real-time and making our roads safer for everyone. However, it is equally important for cannabis users to be responsible and to act in ways that prioritize safety and caution, particularly when it comes to operating machinery or driving on the roads. By working together, we can ensure that the benefits of legal cannabis are enjoyed responsibly and without putting others at risk.


Wesley Kai Sanders: Wesley, a real estate appraiser, offers insights on home valuation, understanding appraisal reports, and trends in home prices.

Learn More →