A New App Tells You When You’re Too Stoned To Drive…But Is It Reliable?


According to an article in International Business TimesCanary puts users through four tests that last about three minutes: a memory challenge where you have to recall six numbers that briefly appear on screen, a reaction-time game where you have to quickly identify a particular icon from a series of images that pop up, a time-perception assessment where you have to count off 20 seconds in your head as accurately as possible and a balance test that uses your phone’s accelerometer to gauge your ability to stand motionless on one foot.

The app then compares the user’s results to a personalized performance baseline based on his or her past attempts at the app, along with “norms” that are built into the program, Once Canary looks at the results, it will tell the user whether or not their performance is impaired. A green light means the user is okay, a yellow light means they should think hard about driving, and a blinking red light means stay off the road.

Silverman says he hopes Canary will solve the issue of marijuana and driving. Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML. He said, “This tool ideally allows cannabis consumers to take control and identify when they present a traffic-safety risk or when they may be under the influence. I believe this is information that all responsible marijuana users will want to know.” NORML is fully supporting Canary and that’s the first time the group has ever endorsed a third-party app. “

Silverman explained that the secret to Canary is that it doesn’t focus on potential markers of impaired performance, like THC in your breath. Instead, it acts on performance itself. Silverman knows a bit about this field. He founded a California-based company called Performance Factors that allowed companies ranging from Fortune 1,000 companies to defense contractors to use a software program, rather than drug tests, to screen for performance impairment. He explained, “Drug tests such as urinalyses or blood tests are retrospective. The best those tests can do is assess lifestyle: Did you consume pot at some time? It has absolutely no impact on whether you can perform. On one hand, it’s kind of unfair to go after someone who might have smoked a joint on Thursday and tested positive on Monday. The flip side of the coin is someone might have been up all night caring for the homeless, but you might not want them driving a school bus the next day.”

The mission for Silverman began two years ago, when he started tracking down the most accurate evidence-based measures of personal impairment and built it into a smartphone app. He’s calling it a marijuana app, but it can actually measure many types of impairment, including alcohol consumption and  lack of sleep.

So far, Canary has been downloaded more than 10,000 times and is attracting attention from major marijuana investors. Silverman hopes the app will eventually discourage people from getting on the road while stoned and that will in turn keep them from getting pulled over or getting into an accident.


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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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