Non-invasive testing for acute marijuana intoxication
The state of California cannot afford to allow the valuable marijuana crop to remain an illegal and untaxed source of income. Prohibition did not work in the 1930’s for alcohol nor does it work today. The combination of the critical loss of services and funding criminal organizations decreases the quality of life in California.
California currently allows for the medical use of marijuana. There is a growing awareness that the propaganda against marijuana is without basis in fact. Marijuana is much safer and has more benefits than alcohol.
Propaganda films such as Reefer Madness appear ridiculous today but played a significant role in the legal war against both marijuana and its relative hemp. Hemp had been a crucial plant in the American colonies from the beginning second only in importance to tobacco. Hemp has less than 1% THC.
Marijuana does have significant risks for the user that requires limiting its use to adults. This is significant because of the continuing brain development in the frontal lobes that takes place during adolescence. Both alcohol and marijuana impair performance during driving and other activities. Society has the right and the obligation to protect itself from harm done by intoxicated individuals.
The breathalyzer allows detection of alcohol immediately during a traffic stop. At the present time, there is no parallel detection method for acute marijuana intoxication. The development of a test that immediately and non-invasively detects acute marijuana intoxication will go a long way toward ensuring our collective safety. Such a test will help parents, employers, police, and marijuana users themselves.
On July 1, 2003 the United States Patent Office issued patent US 6,585,646 B2 to Stuart Mark Berlin M.D. for the diagnostic use of apocrine sweat. Apocrine glands are present in the armpit and groin at the root of every hair shaft. The patent was granted on the basis of data documenting that the evolutionary function of the apocrine gland was to concentrate biomarkers from blood to apocrine sweat during multiple physiologically abnormal states.
This function of the apocrine gland is the product of 130,000 years of co-evolution with dogs. Concentrated biomarkers in apocrine sweat break down into volatile components with little heat and bacterial action. The morphology of the hairs in the armpit and groin create a local smell chamber. This is the physiology that allows dogs to detect cancer, heart attacks and seizures in their masters. Evolutionarily dogs became the carriers of an enhanced sense of smell for humans.
The compound that causes intoxication during marijuana use is THC (delta 9- tetrahydrocannibanol). Serum levels of THC greater than 100 ng/ml peak within minutes and then fall rapidly. Serum levels of THC of 5 ng/ml do not cause impairment. Levels between 5 and 10 ng/ml may also be safe for driving. Blood testing is invasive and not practical in the field. It is also a violation of individual rights.
Urine testing does not test for THC but for its carboxy metabolite which is not psychoactive and remains present in urine for long periods of time. A positive urine test demonstrates marijuana use in the recent past but does not give any information as to current intoxication.
Apocrine sweat concentrates the parent compound THC to five times its blood level during an intoxicated state. Any time the body concentrates against a chemical gradient requires active transport and the use of ATP, costing the body energy. The body only does this for important evolutionary benefit.
Eccrine sweat from the sweat glands on the rest of the body do not concentrate THC but has only one fifth the blood level of THC.
This natural concentrating function of the apocrine gland of THC during acute intoxication means that a non-invasive test of acute marijuana intoxication that gives immediate results in a field setting testing the thin film of sweat in the armpit can now be made.
The technology for the test is the same as the technology for urine pregnancy tests. Therefore any company that makes urine pregnancy tests can immediately make apocrine sweat tests for THC.
The patent for apocrine sweat testing is available for immediate licensing.
There is a very large market that needs this test including police, employers and parents. Marijuana users themselves would also be a large market as they would for the first time be able to test themselves and determine when it was safe for them to drive or operate dangerous machinery or return to work.
Dr. Berlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.