Y-Combinator, a startup accelerator based in California, has picked interest in an Ontario-based startup which is developing a breathalyzer that can detect both alcohol and marijuana on the breath of drivers. Y-Combinator is known for having worked with Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit, so the Canadian startup should be given ample attention if it has caught the eye of this startup accelerator.
SannTek Labs Inc. is the company behind the breathalyzer. This company was founded by two engineering graduate students at the University of Waterloo. The duo plan to develop a testing device which is more robust, more accurate and less invasive than what is currently available on the market. The current THC testing equipment on the market requires a saliva or blood sample.
According to survey data released by Statistics Canada, the Canadian federal government agency responsible for collecting data, approximately 1.4 million Canadian residents in 2018 reported that they had ever travelled in a car driven by someone who had used cannabis within the previous two hours. Such statistics underscore how important roadside marijuana testing equipment is, and the nanotechnology-driven SannTek 315 breathalyzer is an answer to that need.
However, the authorities have to contend with the reality that while it is easy to detect alcohol, marijuana presents numerous challenges since it is fat-soluble. The THC in marijuana may remain in someone’s muscle tissues without that individual showing any sign that they are intoxicated by the drug.
Consequently, it is harder to prove cannabis intoxication when compared to proving that someone is intoxicated/impaired by alcohol.
This is where the SannTek 315 device comes in. The makers of this device claim that their invention has the capability of making an accurate determination of how much THC a person consumed within the past 3-4 hours. Based on these findings, the police can decide whether the person can be prosecuted or not.
This claim may be questionable, given that the scientific community is yet to agree on how much THC can impair a person. To compound matters further, tolerance levels vary, so what can impair one person may not have any effect on another person who uses marijuana more regularly or heavily.
Nevertheless, the innovators at SannTek Labs Inc. hope that their device will attract the attention (and money) of police departments in the U.S. For that to happen, the U.S. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has to first test and approve the products for use. Each device is estimated to cost between $800 and $1,000 although the products aren’t on sale as yet.
Industry watchers are of the view that the cannabis industry, including actors like MustGrow Biologics Corp. (CSE: MGRO) and Nabis Holdings (CSE: NAB) (OTC: NABIF) (FRA: 71P), may be looking to innovators like the ones at SannTek Labs Inc. for solutions to some of the nagging questions about cannabis use by drivers.
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