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Smartphone sensor can detect marijuana intoxication: Rutgers study

A new study suggests that a smartphone sensor, much like the GPS system, can determine if a person is intoxicated after consuming marijuana. Cannabis intoxication is associated with slowed response times, a decrease in work performance, and even a decrease in driving safety, resulting in fatal accidents.

Research by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research has been published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal. The study analyzes smartphone sensor data to determine the level of intoxication from cannabis. The study relied on a combination of time features and sensor data and was found to be 90 percent accurate. Experts say that existing methods such as blood, urine, and saliva tests to detect cannabis intoxication have limitations.

Here’s what they did:

The researchers evaluated daily data collected from young adults who used cannabis at least twice a week. For this study, they examined the phone surveys, self-reported marijuana use, and continuous phone sensor data.

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According to the analysis, the time of day and the day of the week only had a 60 percent accuracy rate in detecting cannabis intoxication, but the time features combined with smartphone sensor data had a 90 percent success rate in detecting marijuana intoxication. Tammy Chung, professor of psychiatry, said the phone’s sensors could allow us to detect when a person is experiencing cannabis intoxication and offer a brief intervention when and where it might have the biggest impact.

The researchers used low burden methods to detect intoxication in daily life, such as tracking time of day and day of the week and analysing data from phone sensors. The study demonstrated that phone sensors were effective at detecting subjective intoxication following cannabis consumption.


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