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Victor company has device that could determine impairment by pot

Now that New York State has legalized recreational marijuana, there are still a number of questions to be answered, including how police will determine if someone is too impaired by pot to drive.

A Victor company called Cognivue is trying to help answer that question.

The company was started by a neuroscientist in 2005, and it developed ways of assessing cognitive impairment, a method that was geared toward use by neurologists and in other clinical settings. Paychex founder Tom Golisano acquired the company in 2018.

Kristin Weber is director of Wellness and Safety Channels for Cognivue.

She said the company has a device that an individual can operate and use to perform a series of exercises over a 5-minute period, which can help determine whether that person has been cognitively impaired.

“It is based on a science called adaptive psychophysics and what we’re doing is we’re taking the subject through six sub-tests and what it is, is cognitive exercises, and so they’re getting a stimulus and responding to it, versus actually answering questions.”

Weber said this system can be useful in trying to figure out if someone has been impaired by using marijuana, and she said this type of test is more fair than other methods.

“Typically cognitive tests have a lot of bias, social economic bias, the human interaction of a human being administering it to another human being always creates subjectivity, and we’re objective, because if the computerized device, (is) self-administered, they’re taking the test in just 5-minutes,” Weber said.

One issue that would need to be worked out is how police would administer the test. Because of the equipment involved it would be easier, for instance, for an officer to consider whether a driver is impaired and then have that person come back to the police station to be tested.

Weber said there are also safety issues for police if they have to remain at a roadside stop for too long, but she said the company is still working to refine the technology.

Weber said that Cognivue is moving ahead with clinical trial of the product in Colorado in June. She said that there has already been interest in their product by law enforcement and some state legislators.

Here's a promotional video from Cognivue about their product used to determine cognitive impairment:

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.