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FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo, a marijuana joint is rolled in San Francisco. It is now legal in Massachusetts for adults to possess, grow and use limited amounts of recreational marijuana. While the voter-approved law took effect Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, it will be at least another year before the state issues retail licenses to sell the drug. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Are you driving while high? San Diego police can use a mouth swab to find out.


Finding out if someone is driving while high on marijuana can be much harder than catching someone driving drunk.  It's much harder to detect and measure THC accurately and quickly than alcohol.

But San Diego police have added a new tool to try to solve the problem: Mouth swabs. They hit the streets for the first time Friday night, CBS-8 reports. The results of the mouth swab are transferred to a cartridge, which is run through a machine that looks for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines including meth, methadone, opiates and benzodiazepines.

Here's the device in action.

The machines, dubbed "Dräger 5000," will be used at sobriety checkpoints throughout San Diego County. It requires the swab to be inside the driver's mouth for up to four minutes. It then takes up to eight minutes for results to be available.

San Diego isn't the only city to do try these swabs. The city of Yellowknife, Canada started using the machines in a pilot program in 2016. Similar swabs are being tested in New York, Arizona, Nevada, Germany, Belgium and Australia, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

It's a huge concern of ours with the legalization of marijuana that we're going to see an increase in impaired drugged driving.
Shelley Zimmerman, San Diego Police Chief

City police said California's recent legalization of recreational marijuana sparked concern.

In 2014, 38 percent of drivers killed in car crashes in California tested positive for drugs, the state Office of Traffic Safety reported.

Redefining DUI laws in states that have legalized pot has become a weedy problem

WATCH | The machine looks for delta-9 THC, the compound in marijuana that gives a high. However, the relationship between amount of THC in the blood and level of impairment is much more complicated than alcohol. California has no numerical standard for how much THC is too much.

Should police use mouth swabs to see if people are driving high?

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