Police Pilot Roadside Cannabis Test in Missouri

How police officers plan to use the device during simple traffic stops is unclear.

A neuro-diagnostic company, Oculogica, said it has launched a pilot program to trial a new roadside cannabis test that supposedly provides immediate results, with a wider release slated toward the end of the year.

The binocular-looking device, dubbed OcuPro, detects recent cannabis use and impairment within 60-90 minutes using eye-tracking-based algorithms, the company said, which would be an improvement over current tests that can only detect the general presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the body.

The OcuPro device can be administered by police officers within 45 seconds, allowing them to determine if a driver is impaired due to recent cannabis use.

The technology is based on studies of several hundred cannabis users, and Oculogica’s data scientist, Darryl Mayeaux, emphasized in a statement the importance of establishing a definition of impairment that will not inappropriately define unimpaired people as impaired.

Companies and law enforcement syndicates have been searching for a reliable test for impairment due to recent consumption for a while now, as the presence of cannabis in the body does not necessarily mean visible intoxication.

“Cannabis presence in the body does not equal impairment,” said CEO Rosina Samadani. “Use is not illegal in many states.”

“Driving while impaired, however, is. OcuPro addresses a huge unmet need for a scientifically and clinically validated test for impairment due to recent cannabis use.”

In addition to law enforcement, OcuPro will also try to solicit its product to manufacturing facilities and workplaces.

For now, the company said law enforcement has the most immediate need, citing data that explored the effect cannabis has on impaired driving crashes in the year following legalization.

Pilot sites for OcuPro include police districts in Missouri, and discussions are underway with several other jurisdictions, such as Seattle, WA. The device will be available beyond the pilot sites in late 2023.

Oculogica said the breathalyzer builds on the technology used in the company’s first FDA-cleared concussion diagnostic that does not require a pre-injury baseline. The company was founded by a neurosurgeon and develops and manufactures products with eye-tracking-based algorithms.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.

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