A former RCMP officer from Ladner is the co-inventor of a new breathalyzer that could be used to detect roadside marijuana use.

Kal Malhi, worked in marijuana enforcement for four of his 10 years with the RCMP. He said the fact that the drug is becoming more mainstream contributes to the fact that fewer people are concerned about the repercussions.

“People are becoming very afraid to drink and drive nowadays because they feel that they will get caught and charged, but they’re not afraid to drug and drive because they don’t feel that law enforcement will do anything about it,” Malhi said.

Along with Dr. Raj Attariwala, a Vancouver radiologist who has a background in biomedical engineering, Malhi has come up with a plan for the Cannabix Breathalyzer.

Currently police rely on sobriety tests to catch those who drug and drive. Blood tests and often inaccurate mouth swabs are required for criminal prosecution. Few drivers suspected of smoking marijuana are faced with a penalty tougher than a 24-hour roadside suspension.

The Cannabix Breathalyzer, which is pending patent, will be able to tell if a person has ingested marijuana in the last two hours.

“As engineers we’re always trying to make the world a little bit better,” Attariwala said. “So when we look and see that there’s something there’s a need for … that’s what gets us up in the morning.”

Attariwala said he often sees the horrific results of impaired driving in his work.

“In the emergency [room] you see what’s going on,” he said. “Particularly with the impaired driving, you see the biggest wrecks that come through the hospital.”

Malhi said he would like to have the marijuana breathalyzer in front of the Minister of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority within 18 months and even have the product used in workplaces that use drug testing.

Until then, the Breathalyzer will undergo further engineering, scientific reviews and field trials as investor funding is raised for the product.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Tom Popyk