Y Combinator bets on a startup building a weed breathalyzer for cops

Y Combinator has kept an eye on cannabis startups more than the years, but it’s their most up-to-date investment that’s certain to attract the consideration of each marijuana customers and law enforcement.

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SannTek Labs, which is launching with new funding out of Y Combinator’s most up-to-date jumbo class of startups, is developing a new type of breathalyzer that can detect blood-alcohol levels but can also decide how substantially cannabis a individual has smoked or otherwise consumed in the previous 3-4 hours.

CEO Noah Debrincat say that he desires the startup’s SannTek 315 breath testing device to enable officers make stronger “evidence-based decisions” rather than only relying on unsophisticated roadside sobriety tests or blood tests which can potentially take months to get benefits for and can lead to false positives by detecting cannabis use that took location various days prior to the test.

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The SannTek breathalyzer detects the cannabis molecules in your breath, and provides a police officer a readout that lets them know if you have the drug in your technique.

“We are specifically detecting Delta-9 THC, which is the predominant psychoactive component of cannabis,” Debrincat tells TechCrunch. “We understand how that gets into your breath. We understand what it does to you and the impairing side effects. And we know that if people are driving with high concentrations of that in their system, their psycho-motor skills are seriously decreased.”

A young startup developing a device that could lead to men and women becoming arrested is naturally a fairly higher-stakes circumstance, but Debrincat says they are confident in the tech and there are certifications that they’ll will need in order to get the device into law enforcement hands. “The only way that a police officer will buy this is if NHTSA, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, puts its stamp of approval on it,” Debrincat says, noting that SannTek was currently in talks with the agency.


If it’s adopted, the startup’s device will be capable to be utilized pre-arrest to give the officer a quantity indication of a driver’s impairment, or as SannTek additional hones their device, the breathalyzer could be utilized for post-arrest evidentiary testing back at the precinct in a far more controlled atmosphere.

A Canadian startup developing a device for U.S. law enforcement isn’t the most well-known position provided quite a few of the conversations about systemic discriminatory practices that outcome in greater police presences in communities of colour. But Debrincat hopes that the corporation’s device can be aspect of a optimistic shift due to the higher objectivity it promotes and its tighter window of detection.

“The state of affairs currently is that there’;s a bunch of misdemeanor charges for small weed crimes that are happening across America and one way to address that is by federally decriminalizing the drug, sure,” Debrincat says. “But what provides police provides energy now is the capacity to make a get in touch with mainly because there is no [breathalyzer] device.”

There are motives to be concerned for law enforcement having a tool that could be utilized discriminately, but Debrincat says there is also a lot of purpose to be concerned for the other drivers that are on the road when cannabis customers may possibly be driving impaired. The CEO tells me that drivers are 2x as most likely to get into an accident when operating autos below the influence of cannabis. Other research reinforce the dangers of driving when higher. 

The corporation desires to retain the value of their device low adequate that precincts across the U.S. can quickly afford them, ideal now Debrincat says the startup is shooting for the $800-$1,000 variety to remain competitive with other choices out there.