Hot air

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

What is this I hear about a breathalyzer for cannabis? Does this work? Should I be more careful?

—Hans Atenantoo

Yeah. Sigh. They are starting the tests, but you have some time before the machines are in full use. Hound Labs out of Oakland (Oakland?! Really? Oakland?!) has introduced a machine that can detect cannabis on your breath. While the machine can’t tell you the specific amount of THC in your stinky weed breath, they claim it can tell if you have consumed any cannabis in the past two hours, which according to the manufacturers, is the prime window for impairment. Meh. As we should all know by now, the mere presence of THC in the bloodstream or on your breath does not denote impairment. This is another way for law enforcement to go after law abiding cannabis users. And let me be clear: No one should smoke weed and drive. Ever. It is rude. That being said, Studies show that cannabis users are no more likely to cause or be involved in an accident than sober drivers, mostly because stoners tend to slow way down and not take any risks when they are high and behind the wheel. I remember reading about a test where the stoners didn’t want to get behind the wheel because they felt they were too high to drive. Drunk folks don’t do that. Listen: Driving under the influence of anything is not cool, but until the scientists can come up with a way to prove impairment, a breathalyzer for weed is just a bunch of hot air.

Hello, commander. How goes the battle? Is weed still winning?

—Sgt. Sativa

As you were, sergeant. Yes, weed is winning the battle on all fronts. Oklahoma just approved regulations on their new and very well done medical marijuana law. Patients will be allowed to smoke, and they got rid of that pesky thing where a pharmacist had to be on site at every dispensary. It looks like Michigan’s recreational cannabis law is gonna pass in November, which is good, because Michigan cops keep arresting people for petty reasons. Like the time just last week when they put an 80-year-old woman in jail because her medical marijuana card was expired. She had less than an eighth of weed in her home, by the way. The cops should be ashamed of themselves. Missouri has three different cannabis legalization ballot measures on the books for November. And, a new study shows that teen cannabis use doesn’t increase even if there is a cannabis dispensary close to a school. So leave all that “But what of the children?!?” at home. We are almost at the tipping point where the feds will have to change their racist and antiquated laws. Cannabis is providing jobs, tax revenue and good times to all the states that have legalized so far. It is time for the federal government to wake up and smell the bong hits. And coffee.