Cannabis Breathalyzer? Understanding onset and offset

cannabis breathalyzer meme

Holy smokes…we all knew this was a matter of time before they developed a breathalyzer for cannabis. With legalization spreading across the country had a sneaky suspicion there would eventually be a response from law enforcement. The argument of “I’m too lazy to drive when I’m high…” would never stand up in court and we all know that.

It’s like trying to convince my mom that I only had one beer when I came back from the rager in high school and smelled like black and milds. Nobody smokes a black and mild and only has “one beer”, you need at least two or maybe even a 40oz. She knew and I knew. Therefore I was punished.

What now?

Thankfully, good parenting kept me way from the long arm of the law. Alcohol and Cannabis are different but have similarities. Unfortunately for cannabis offenders back in the day some are still suffering from their mistakes. This article is not about that but if you care about advocacy, check out Last Prisoner Project.

This is mainly about what’s our next move as the cannabis community. Sure we can say simply say “don’t smoke and drive”, which is a good start. However there is a bit more nuance to cannabis itself.

[FYI – I’m not a doctor just someone who cares]

The science impacting onset

I’m not going to pretend I know the science behind all this but I will cover some basics about cannabis. If you want to check out more about the device, I’ve added the company link here and video at the bottom.

We all have endocannabinoid systems and cannabis has cannabinoids. Sort of a lock and key system which is why different ratios of THC:CBD create different effects. Also terpenes, degrading cannabinoids, delivery mechanisms, existing cannabinoids in system and your metabolism factor in as well to your intoxication. Trust me there are even more but I’ll just focus on one for now.

Delivery mechanisms

Delivery mechanisms aka flower, edibles, drinks and tinctures have different onset and offsets. Think about onset in terms of alcohol as how quickly it takes you to feel a buzz. Offset is simply how long that beer stays in your system. If you’ve had several beers and maybe a tequila shot then you’re going to have a longer offset time. This is important to understand when you’re thinking about if you’ll pass a cannabis breathalyzer test.

They already have a fancy chart for alcohol. Cannabis does not. The question is do we want to leave that up to the government to decide behind closed doors or do we encourage cannabis experts and scientists with real knowledge of the plant to contribute.

I’m not a believer in that all government is bad but I do believe unformed rule makers can be dangerous. We have seen this with the war on drugs.

Cannabis onset and offset

I’m going to avoid specifics and relate to my own personal experiences as an example not a rule:

  • For me flower is a pretty quick onset and lasts for about an hour.
  • Edibles, I’m a SLOW metabolizer so it takes me about an hour and I feel it for a while. I LOVE edibles but it’s taken some time to understand my right dosage.
  • Vapes make me sneeze when they have artificial terpenes.
  • Beverages have become a staple in my life. Companies like Cann, here in California, are really nailing the experience plus it has about 30 calories. See ya later beer gut!

Take action

Education for you and for all. One of my favorite quotes I’ve heard about cannabis is “The most addictive thing about cannabis is learning about it.” Once you start to dive in to cannabis you’ll really start to understand what this means. Pro tip: don’t just focus on the getting high part…you might find a new career path.

If we leave it up solely to the media and government, I can promise you won’t be happy with the results. Driving under the influence is not good, but let’s set a standard that is fair. We should probably develop our own version of “Drink Responsibly.”

Cannabis breathalyzer video