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TechCrunch Asks Cannabis Breathalyzer CEO ‘Why Are You Such a Narc?’

September 19, 2017
(TechCrunch)
During the latest TechCrunch Disrupt event, one of the premier events for tech startups, TechCrunch Editor-At-Large Josh Constine wasted no time getting right to the point.

As he sat down to interview Mike Lynn, co-founder and CEO of Hound Labs, a startup in the process of developing the first reliable cannabis breathalyzer, Constine pulled no punches, asking, “Why are you such a narc?”

The question got a laugh from both the audience and Lynn, who then launched into an explanation of the benefits of having a reliable breathalyzer on the market.

“What we really try to do at Hound Labs is really be fair, to balance public safety and fairness because we need to have a standard,” he explained. “We don’t want people going around stoned behind the wheel, just like you can’t drive drunk.”

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“But,” he pointed to the counterargument, “at the same time, you don’t want to start firing people or arresting people who aren’t impaired.”

Hound Labs raised $8.1 million in its latest round of funding, specifically for research related to this cannabis breathalyzer, but how does it work?

The machine is similar to an alcohol breathalyzer (and does calculate alcohol levels as well as THC), but the machine comes with single-use cartridges. When breath enters the cartridge, a chemical reaction separates THC molecules, allowing the calculation of THC levels.

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Researchers Are One Step Closer to a THC Breathalyzer

The Hound Labs breathalyzer will first be only available to law enforcement agencies, a contrary point to Lynn’s vehement denial that he is, in fact, a narc. However, he is looking towards marketing the product for employers to help them recognize whether workers are actively impaired, which could save companies millions of dollars in drug tests costs.

So are cannabis breathalyzers for the best or for narcs? Truth be told, TechCrunch misspelled the word “nark” so who knows? Maybe they’re the ones to watch out for.

Lisa Rough's Bio Image

Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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  • lovingc

    The Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk report, produced by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that while drunken driving dramatically increased the risk of getting into an accident, there was no evidence that using marijuana heightened that risk. In fact, after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, the report found that stoned drivers were no more likely to crash than drivers who were not intoxicated at all.
    It’s worth taking a closer look at that 2015 NHTSA study, because federal officials put a lot of stock in it as “the first large-scale [case control crash risk] study in the United States to include drugs other than alcohol.” Data was collected from more than 3,000 crash-involved drivers and 6,000 control drivers (not involved in crashes) over a 20-month period in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The data was fresh and solid: Research teams responded to crashes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Drivers were considered THC-positive if they tested for active THC, not for non-impairing metabolites still in their blood days or weeks after consumption.
    While THC-positive drivers were 5% more likely to be involved in a crash, the researchers found that drivers who’d taken an opioid painkiller had a 14% greater risk of crashing. Here’s a chart from that NHTSA study comparing THC (marijuana) with opioids (narcotic analgesics) and other drugs:
    Those levels of increased risk were tiny, however, compared to the risk involved with alcohol. Drivers within the legal range of blood alcohol level as registered by a breathalyzer (BrAC) were found to be 20% to 222% more likely to be involved in a crash. At .08 BrAC, the legal limit, the risk increased to 293%. At 0.15 BrAC, drivers were more than 12 times (+1118%) more likely to be involved in a crash than a sober person. Here’s a chart from that same study, calculating the increased risk of crashing at rising blood alcohol levels:
    By comparison, a driver who has taken penicillin is 25% more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers carrying two or more passengers are 120% more likely to crash. Drivers using mobile phones to talk or text are 310% more likely to crash.
    A separate NHSTA study (“Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance”) further conceded it’s “difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects … Drivers with high concentrations showed substantial [impairment], but also no impairment, or even some improvement.” In other words, cannabis affects different drivers in different ways, depending on a number of factors.

    • Snegurochka

      And nowhere near as dangerous as texting drivers.

    • Isaac Mizrahi

      y’know…i’m just going to come straight to the point. been smoking for…around 50 yrs…was a licensed nurse(retired). did volunteer therapist work. helped write a few books.
      and i’d just like to say that that is either the largest crock a shit in the vicinity or whoever was tested that had ingested marijuana? it wasn’t very strong…i consider it irresponsible, aSIDE from being untrue…and don’t go throwing smokers in with texters as if one is BETter than the other…they’re BOTH irresponsible.
      now who do you think i’m going to believe? your bullshit agenda LIES, or my work in the ER at highland hospital(county hospital located in e. oakland)?
      i love smoking pot. but if you do, stay off the road, please. you may not be so lucky as to get me in the ER…(top of my paramedic AND nursing programs). but if you did and i found out you were stoned and caused injury, i would, personally, make sure you were locked away…this isn’t some joke. so go ahead and speak about your ‘findings’. as if they’re to be believed any more than any OTHER business with an agenda. oh, btw folks…smoking cigarettes does NOT cause cancer. remember that one? just about the same, as far as i’m concerned…deadly is deadly…you best take it seriously. thanks.
      now finish your milk and cookies. after GOT straight to bed. ok. not necessarily ‘straight’…

      • lovingc

        The Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk report, produced by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that while drunken driving dramatically increased the risk of getting into an accident, there was no evidence that using marijuana heightened that risk. In fact, after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, the report found that stoned drivers were no more likely to crash than drivers who were not intoxicated at all.

        • Isaac Mizrahi

          wow loving…that was a GREAT cut and paste…
          i’ll say this slow. maybe you read lips.
          i…don’t…believe….them…
          along with all the other lies i’ve come across in my getting long life…along with being a retired nurse/therapist…i’ll say it again…ok?
          i. don’t. be. lieve. them.
          but MOST of all…i’ve smoked and KNOWN i shouldn’t be driving in ‘that condition’…trust me. i’m one of the better drivers you’ll ever meet. ridiculous(thoughtless) reflexes that have made me LAUGH at times…(reflexes are not in our control, btw. i doubt you have the education i have so i want to include you in this…reflexes don’t go to the brain…they go from stimulus/i(plural/many) to the spine and back again as the reflex/reaction that we witness… fear’s like that, btw…i’m not saying fear is wrong…i’m just saying it’s reflexive…usu doesn’t involve thinking.)). now REALLY ‘loving’…i KNOW you don’t smoke…b/c, if you did, SOMEwhere along the way…you’d PROBably bump inta ‘some good shit’. and you’d KNOW you shouldn’t be driving…it’s. just. THAT. simple, ok?
          experience. the best teacher. i was too stoned to drive a car. DEFinitely, beyond a doubt. and it wasn’t the first time that i was THAT stoned…i’ve been around people…we were all SO stoned that i KNEW i couldn’t really get a sentence out straight. no way. so i just SAT there and was REALly entertained by these other aDULTS…none less than FIFty…and of mixed gender, i would like to add…who were trying to preTEND they weren’t stoned…but couldn’t really speak… ; – ) MACHo smoking… what a buncha teeners in adult bodies we are sometimes….

          i wasn’t driving that night ; – ). i was visiting with a woman in LA. that i met here in holland, in fact. where i’ve ridden nothing but a bike &/or train for the last 20 yrs. and i was never much on cars beFORE that…waaaay
          too expensive…! like having a kid…and most of my friends had one, anyways…
          but..you know??? now that you got me THINKing on it, the time where i wasn’t driving and we were in an accident, my friend–the driver–HADn’t smoked! i’d been with him for a while before we got in the car…no. he was turning around to speak with the pretty woman in the back seat(and her daughter) that we’d just picked up
          hitchhiking… ; – ) HIS reflexes surprised ME! i won’t go into any more details except to say…i wonder how his reflexes would’ve been if he’d been stoned…let me get on FB right NOW and tell him we SHOULDa been stoned and we both woulda STILL been alive cuz he woulda reacted the same… ; – )

          next, i’m guessing, you’re going to throw quotes at me from WHERE? the bible? that homosexuals should be put to death? that adulteress women(not men, mind you ‘loving’) should be stoned…which i guess brings us full circle, huh…
          so maybe you’re right…
          evrybuddy must get stoned…
          have a good life loving…i know i have…

    • Vida Sawyer

      There was a (not very scientific) test done that I saw on YouTube comparing drivers sober, then giving alcohol or cannabis and testing their driving skills progressively. Not only did the cannabis user do better across the board with driving, she got to a point where she opted out. The drinker was raring to get back in that car and beat that stoner at impaired driving! The smoker literally just said, no, man, I shouldn’t get back in the car.

      Anecdotal at best, but she definitely showed better judgment than the one given alcohol.

      • lovingc

        It is much ado about nothing. The fear driven desire to punish people again over nothing.

  • DaDenMan

    ‘Narc’ is short for Narcotics Officer.

    I have no idea what a ‘Nark’ is.

    • alacrity

      it’s the sound a dog with a hair-lip makes when it barks?

    • FlunkedAgain

      Narc has been in the American vocabulary longer than Lisa has been on the planet.

      It’s meaning and spelling vary, depending on which English language variant is being used.
      American and British English are similar, and each have their own dialects.

      • Knitmygrits

        Okayyy

    • Snegurochka

      A “nark”, in British slang, is a police informer.

  • Highway 69

    It didn’t get into details, so it’s hard to say anything about this device, but I’m all for a test that can perform to the same standards, or close to what a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) test can.
    We all know that simply detecting THC in your system is not indicative of being under the influence, since THC is fat soluble (not water soluble) and therefore can remain in your body for up to a month. A GC-MS machine will prevent these “false positives”.

  • Joseph Muhammad

    Nazis do things for money instead of doing what is right.

  • Christian Cord Cassity

    I think this is ridiculous if you are a responsible smoker you know when you should and should not drive medicated not to mention those who use pain patches how is the breathalyzer detect that there’s more examples of what you figure amount are Stupid