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New study reveals your smartphone can tell if you’re high on marijuana

According to a study conducted by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research and published in the peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the sensors in a smartphone can be used to determine if a person is high on marijuana. Yep, you read that right—we are this close to living in an Orwellian dystopia.

By using a combination of time features and data from a smartphone’s GPS, accelerometer, and other sensors, researchers had up to a 90 per cent rate of accuracy in identifying periods of cannabis intoxication. “This proof-of-concept study indicates the feasibility of using phone sensors to detect subjective cannabis intoxication in the natural environment, with potential implications for triggering just-in-time interventions,” the study’s authors concluded.

When conducting the study, researchers analysed daily data collected from a group of 57 young adults who use cannabis at least twice a week. Participants had to complete three surveys per day where they were asked how high they felt at a given time of day, when they had last used cannabis, and how much cannabis they had consumed. They also had to download a smartphone app that analysed information including GPS data, usage statistics, phone logs, and data from accelerometers and other smartphone sensors.

Using this data, researchers were then able to determine the importance of time features including the time of day and the day of the week in identifying periods of cannabis use and identified which smartphone sensors may be most useful in detecting self-reported marijuana intoxication.

“Using the sensors in a person’s phone, we might be able to detect when a person might be experiencing cannabis intoxication and deliver a brief intervention when and where it might have the most impact to reduce cannabis-related harm,” said corresponding author, Tammy Chung, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Population Behavioral Health at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, in a statement about the research’s findings.

When using time of day and day of week data, researchers had 60 per cent accuracy in detecting self-reporting of cannabis intoxication—when using the smartphone sensor data alone, researchers had an accuracy rate of 67 per cent. By using a combination of time features and data from smartphone sensors, researchers had 90 per cent accuracy in detecting cannabis intoxication.

From there, the study determined that travel patterns from GPS data at times when the subjects reported ‘feeling high’ and movement data from a smartphone’s accelerometer were the most important smartphone sensor features for detecting when participants were, well, high.

Long story short, the study found that “the feasibility of using phone sensors to detect subjective intoxication from cannabis consumption is strong”—suggesting some practical applications of the concept including its potential to help keep people safe from some of the risks associated with cannabis use or to simply monitor them.

“Adverse effects of acute cannabis intoxication have been reported by young adults, with associated consequences such as poor academic and work performance, and injuries and fatalities due to driving while ‘high’ on cannabis,” reads the study.

As reported by Forbes, “a similar study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs last year investigated the possibility of using smartphones to detect alcohol intoxication.” The research found that accelerometer data could be used to determine if a person had consumed alcohol in excess of the legal limit for driving 90 per cent of the time.

Although the potential risks associated with cannabis use should not be undermined, it is also important to note how invasive such techniques could turn out to be on our privacy. First, our smartphone will be able to monitor our mental health and detect signs of depression, then it will not only help induce a semi-psychedelic state with its flashlight but also record how many times we’ve been smoking pot this month. I’ve never been happier to have been born in the 90s.

Amazon’s solution to its delivery driver shortage? Recruiting stoners

Amazon’s currently struggling with a severe shortage of delivery drivers in the US. But when it comes to next-day delivery, we all know Jeff Bezos isn’t kidding around, which is why the e-commerce giant has already found a solution, one that is surprising to say the least: it’s now recruiting marijuana users.

According to communications obtained by Bloomberg, Amazon has told its delivery partners to prominently state they don’t screen applicants for weed use. Doing so can boost the number of job applicants by as much as 400 per cent, Amazon told the publication in one message, without explaining how exactly it came up with the statistic.

Conversely, the company says, screening for marijuana cuts the prospective worker pool by up to 30 per cent. One delivery partner, who’s now stopped screening applicants after Amazon’s request, said that marijuana was the prevailing reason most people failed drug tests. Now that she’s only testing for drugs like opiates and amphetamines, more drivers pass.

While some of Amazon’s independent delivery partners are fine with simplifying their screening process, others aren’t too thrilled about its newly found stoner-friendly attitude. Understandably, there are concerns when it comes to the insurance and liability implications in the many states where marijuana use remains illegal. “They also worry that ending drug testing might prompt some drivers to toke up before going out on a route,” added Bloomberg.

“If one of my drivers crashes and kills someone and tests positive for marijuana, that’s my problem, not Amazon’s,” explained one delivery company owner, who requested anonymity because—would you look at that—Amazon discourages partners from speaking to the media.

In June, Amazon announced it would no longer screen applicants for the drug. It wasn’t long before the company began urging its delivery partners to do the same. And it looks like the company is not the only one coming up with creative ways to recruit more employees. Target announced this month that it would pay college tuition for its employees while Applebee’s offered free appetisers to applicants in its push to recruit 10,000 workers. Side note: cheers for the snacks Applebee’s but Target wins without a doubt.

Whether it truly means it or not, Amazon justified its pro-weed approach in a statement that said that marijuana testing has disproportionately affected communities of colour, stalling job growth. The company’s spokesperson also said that Amazon has zero tolerance for employees working while impaired. “If a delivery associate is impaired at work and tests positive post-accident or due to reasonable suspicion, that person would no longer be permitted to perform services for Amazon.”

According to Bloomberg, Amazon delivery contractors are often outbid by school bus companies, where drivers can make more than $20 an hour and are home for dinner. Amazon contract drivers typically earn $17 an hour and often work late into the night to keep up with demand. One solution against the delivery driver shortage would be to raise their wages. But it’s Amazon we’re talking about here.