Before we begin, it should be hammered into your head by now that you should never drive impaired or under the influence of drugs. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just had a bump, or a dip, or a toke, or a tab, or whatever – driving impaired is not safe – ever.

A new device developed by the University of Buffalo has been shown to detect cocaine within minutes after testing. The innovation is thanks to a new low-cost microchip that costs about 10 cents to make, and can be modified to detect a variety of chemicals.

“Currently, there is a great demand for on-site drug testing,” said Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor of electrical engineering in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “The high-performance chip we designed was able to detect cocaine within minutes in our experiments.”

Gan and colleagues are hopeful that the same technology can be applied to other drugs such as marijuana and opioids in the future.

The technology behind the device itself, Surfaced Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, is not new. However, the low cost of the device’s internal components make it prime for mass production, and University of Buffalo wants to get it into the hands of police.

“The widening legalization of marijuana raises a lot of societal issues, including the need for a system to quickly test drivers for drug use,” said Gan.

While marijuana legalization is sweeping across the country, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of any drugs.

Further legislation will have to determine at what concentration a person is legally “impaired” when under the influence of drugs like marijuana and cocaine. You see billboards for “buzzed driving is drunk driving,” but a person can legally drive if their blood alcohol level is under 0.08%. It’s still not smart, though.


H/T New York Post