Victor company working on impairment test for marijuana

Charles Molineaux
Updated: March 30, 2021 11:32 PM
Created: March 30, 2021 11:01 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Police have long objected to legalizing recreational pot, but a local company could have an answer to their biggest concern: How to figure out if someone's too high to drive.

Its approach was so promising local billionaire entrepreneur, Tom Golisano, bought the company.

If the Victor company, Cognivue, succeeds, this could be the marijuana version of a sobriety test or breathalyzer to establish if someone has been driving impaired.

For years, police have warned of an increase of deadly wrecks if pot becomes legal because they'll have no way to establish if someone is too stoned to be behind the wheel like they can with breathalyzers for alcohol.

"We don't have a scientific level of marijuana in your system, or THC in your system—that experts agree—we can all agree that you're impaired or intoxicated. We don't have that," Executive Director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Patrick Phelan said.

Cognivue seeks to change that by providing not a blood test, but a test of how well your brain is working. It offers a five-minute series of challenges to test visual acuity and motor skills, word memory, shape memory and perception.

"Most of the solutions before law enforcement today are really revolving around the recent use of a drug, of a substance, clearly marijuana, while, but we are looking at is… Is that person impaired by that marijuana?" Kristin Weber of Cognivue said.

The system also controls for individual coordination, so an expert gamer wouldn't have an advantage over, say, someone with arthritis.

Cognivue has done real-life evaluations in Philadelphia with 130 subjects who were under the influence.

The company says police aren't interested in doing a five-minute video test out in the field because of safety concerns but if a roadside DUI analysis flags someone, that could prompt this kind of test.

"We are seeing it most likely in the police station after someone has been suspected of drug-impaired driving," Weber said. "And currently we've done some pilots."

In June, Cognivue will be headed out to do a clinical trial of its system in Colorado where marijuana has been legal since 2012.


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