New device attempts to set the brakes on driving while large

Not seeing is believing when it comes to a new apparatus for analyzing cannabis intoxication.

The Impairment Measurement Marijuana and dialing apparatus — or IMMAD — utilizes a Samsung VR headset specifically designed to check a driver’s peripheral vision. Topics are expected to push a Bluetooth button whenever they view a flashing stripe on the borders of the area of vision.

“Marijuana causes temporary paralysis of the cells operating in the retina,” Denise Valenti, an optometrist and lead programmer of this item, advised International Business Times. “So, when you have certain neurologic deficit in your retina, you just can’t see the stripes. If you can’t see, you can’t drive.”

Valenti, who developed the IMMAD together with computer engineering professor Mark Pomplun in the University of Massachusetts, stated that incorporating eye tracking technologies to this apparatus needs to increase efficacy in determining intoxication from cannabis.

“The final version will be a quick, simple, objective, sensitive, specific test of marijuana driving impairment for law enforcement,” she explained. “This test will be threshold related and have a number value compared to a large normative database. That test will take two minutes per eye.”

Marijuana has proven exceptionally hard to correctly check for from the human body. The existence of THC, the psychoactive component of the medication, doesn’t necessarily indicate someone is impaired. And greater amounts of marijuana use don’t necessarily imply higher degrees of impairment. And since marijuana-impaired drivers may also be using alcohol, beyond evaluations have shown less than successful.

“We’re going to need more research and more help from the medical community, from medical researchers, to help us understand different products with different levels of THC, how different individuals are affected by that, how that relates to impairment, and ultimately how that relates to the ability to drive a vehicle and a potential crash risk,” David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), told Consumer Reports.

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