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Companies on the Verge of a Breakthrough in the Cannabis Detection Market

22 Aug Companies on the Verge of a Breakthrough in the Cannabis Detection Market

The Cannabis plant has an estimated 113 different compounds out of which THC and CBD are the two main constituents. These affect the receptors in the brain and alter an individual’s physical and mental state. THC is mainly responsible for the psychoactive effects or the feeling of “high” caused by the use of cannabis. It causes effects such as a feeling of elation, hallucinations, appetite changes, lowered anxiety and inhibitions. According to data from the Addiction Centre, the THC content of marijuana has gone up by almost 300 percent since the 1960s, which has far-reaching implications on intoxication related accidents and addiction. Over 2.3 million new users use marijuana daily in the U.S alone.

THC can cause driving impairment for nearly three hours after consumption according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It can also lead to memory related issues, decline in cognition and IQ in the long run.

The biggest concern however is the lack of a quick, efficient and reliable detection mechanism that can accurately predict the level of impairment like in case of alcohol abuse. The current methods of testing use tools like urine analysis, hair testing or saliva testing, which can detect marijuana consumed days ago. These methods are time-consuming and cumbersome and the results are not always accurate. The Duquenois-Levine test is another commonly used screening mechanism, which is not reliable as other substances have also been shown to give false positives.

There is a large unmet need for devices that are non-invasive and can provide quick assessment of intoxication, as compared to conventional testing methods that require blood or urine samples and take days to provide results. There is a growing call for legalization of marijuana use, which could also see a rise in the cases of impaired driving or workplace accidents, caused due to excessive use or abuse of marijuana. Therefore it becomes imperative that there is a scientific and reliable method of assessing impairment as against the current cumbersome and time-consuming processes.

We take a look at some companies which are creating innovative solutions to address this pressing need.

Cannabix Technologies, (OTCPK: BLOZF)

Market Cap: $59.88M; Current Share Price: 0.5793 USDChart
Data by YCharts

Cannabix Technologies Inc, a pioneer in the development of Marijuana and other drug-testing devices, recently announced that its scientific team has developed a proprietary method that can detect the highest levels of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) from human breath till date. The company manufactures Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer meant for use by law enforcement agencies and workplaces, where THC induced impairment could prove hazardous and fatal.

Cannabix, in association with the  Yost Research Group at the University of Florida, has developed a novel  breath detection device based upon high-field ion mobility and mass spectrometry named Field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry also known as FAIMS. This device helps establish intoxication and impairment at roadside.

The company has developed a breath Collection Unit (“BCU”), which is lightweight, works on a conventional battery and contains a breath sample container that integrates with the Cannabix FAIMS detection device for analysis. It can collect numerous samples and is easy to use.

Image Source: Company

The new methodology captures and ionizes THC and cannabinoid analytes even in extremely low quantities (owing to their low volatility), which represents a considerable advancement over conventional breath analyzing techniques. The company sees a potential application of these novel methods, even in point-of-care and lab-based instruments, which can provide real-time results from breath samples collected from analytes characterized by a wide range of volatilities.

Cannabix is currently evaluating the sensitivity and reliability of the instrument and any variance among test subjects, using its FAIMS (field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry) THC detection device, at its Vancouver and Florida development facilities.

The company also has a growing patent portfolio including an exclusive worldwide license of University of Florida (“UF”) US Patent 8,237,related to breath analysis of controlled substances, using Partial Ovoidal FAIMS Electrode (high field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry). It has additional patents pending both in the U.S as well as Canada.

In the pipeline is an intercept system (ignition interlock device) for controlled substances, which will have an installed device that will require the driver to blow into it, to confirm that he is not impaired or under influence of alcohol or drugs.

Hound Labs
Hound labs is a pioneer in the ultra-sensitive, non-invasive breath measurement space and is developing a path breaking Hound marijuana breath analyzer touted to the world’s first breath analyzer that can do a quick, accurate and cost-effective analysis of recent marijuana or alcohol consumption using breath samples. The company is targeting the law enforcement, workplace safety and insurance space.

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Hound has entered into a partnership agreement with Triple Ring Technologies, a research and development firm that offers creative solutions to critical technical challenges. Together they are developing an ultra-sensitive breath technology that can detect THC in breath, even in cases where it is as low as 1 picogram. The device which uses cutting-edge technology to measure the amount of THC is currently being evaluated for its performance in human studies, according to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidelines.

The Hound marijuana breath analyzer can accurately determine recent use of marijuana, and can populate results in minutes, as against conventional testing mechanisms which can take days or even weeks. It is non-invasive and does not require blood, urine or oral fluid samples, the biggest advantage however is that it does not detect marijuana which was consumed days earlier which is a definite improvement over existing intoxication detection techniques.

The Device can also detect marijuana consumption in any form, be it smoking or ingestion through edibles. It is also useful in testing for alcohol, providing a dual testing mechanism. Moreover it collects two samples, one for immediate analysis and one for future analysis. It allows for the results to be stored or even printed, the data is encrypted and stored securely with a unique ID. The testing device is compact and portable and comes with an automatic cooling and heating mechanism to ensure optimal performance.

Psychemedics Corporation (NASDAQ: PMD)

Market Cap: $39.722M; Current Share Price: 7.20 USD Chart
Data by YCharts

Psychemedic Corporation offers CAP certified laboratory services for detection of drugs using hair samples. The company was founded by Dr. Werner Baumgartner, a prominent authority in the field, and gained wide acceptance in numerous commercial avenues as means of testing for drug abuse and promoting workplace safety. The company offers its services of testing for cocaine, marijuana, opiates (including heroin and oxycodone), methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA) and phencyclidine (PCP) for a wide clientele which includes fortune 500 companies.

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The company’s offering include 5-panel drug testing, which can be extended with FDA 510(k)-cleared screens for benzodiazepines, fentanyl, and adderall as well as alcohol, nicotine and synthetic cannabinoids. It also manufactures PDT-90, a home drug user kit that can detect 12 drugs and has a FDA clearance.

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It is widely recognized as a very reliable test for detecting marijuana, with its detection rate being 2-3X that of other hair tests and 6-10X those of urine. The biggest advantage of using this drug test is that it has a 90-day window of detection, which can point out habitual users, making for a safer workplace. The Drug testing is used by businesses ranging from small to large corporate, schools and law enforcement agencies, where being drug-free is a prerequisite for safety and minimizing liability.

The company’s non-invasive testing procedures rely on hair samples, which are 60% less than that required by other laboratories. It has a College of American Pathologists (CAP) and ISO-IEC 17025:2005 certified laboratory, where the testing is carried out and its results are accepted by courts all over the U.S. Its results conform to the safeguards laid down by the FBI for impartial testing, with false positive results being minimal, as the company provisions for scenarios where there is ingestion versus external exposure to a drug.

Sanntek Labs
The company is developing SANTEKK 315, a portable breath analyzer that is completely automated and can analyze a person’s breath to detect if marijuana was consumed within the past 3 to 4 hours. The device offers step-by-step instructions to operate it, through an LED panel at the back, along with accuracy, reliability and a speedy response. The device relies on a nanotechnology based sensor to quantify the amount of THC present in the breath molecule of the person being tested.

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The device can test for both cannabis and alcohol and can give a fairly accurate assessment of impairment based on the level of THC on breath molecules. The company is in talks with the National Highway Transportation Safety Association for regulatory approvals for the sale of its device.

In August 2019, the company received funding from Y Combinator, an American Seed accelerator.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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