Arizona Company Wants To Create Reliable Marijuana Breath Test

Arizona Company Wants To Create Reliable Marijuana Breath Test

By Terri Jo Neff |

With marijuana use now legal in some manner in the majority of states, attention is turning to how to reliably determine if a driver—or employee or care giver—is under the influence of THC, the chemical in cannabis responsible for having a psychological effect on the brain.

Phoenix-based ElectraTect is gaining worldwide attention for its effort to develop a THC breath analyzer tool comparable to the breathalyzer tests routinely used by law enforcement agencies and courts to determine whether someone is impaired due to alcohol consumption.

The need for a quick and reliable THC testing mechanism has come under growing attention in recent years in response to insurance and public health studies showing the increased likelihood that marijuana impairment is a factor in injury accidents, on the road, in the workplace, and in the home.

The problem, according to cannabis experts, is that traditional THC tests utilizing blood, urine, or saliva are expensive and can provide positive results days after marijuana use and long after any impairment. Yet scientists also know THC only stays on a person’s breath for a few hours after use, generally falling in line with the usual timeframe of peak impairment.

Which led Dr. Evan Darzi and Neil K. Gang, Ph.D., to found ElectraTect in 2020 with support from UCLA where Gang serves as Chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty. Several company employees are graduates of Arizona State University, where Darzi studies.

That same year, Gang and Darzi revealed a patented electrochemical oxidation process which measures the concentration of THC molecules in a breath sample. Then earlier this year, the company went public with the results of a study of its device published in the journal Organic Letters.

The study pointed to the “need for a fair forensic tool capable of detecting THC in the short window of impairment.”

ElectraTect is now testing a cannabinoid fuel cell designed to detect the amount of THC recently introduced into a person’s system. The technology could ultimately lead to the development of a cost-effective, portable marijuana breathalyzer.

Yet the company’s founders are motivated by more than the science. They recognize the critical need for more research into marijuana impairment in order to ensure there can be a fair and objective testing method of impairment to prevent subjective determinations which can lead to unwarranted criminal charges or civil liability.

“In states where marijuana has been decriminalized or legalized, traditional testing can still lead to fines, imprisonment, or loss of employment, even if you are not impaired at the time of testing,” Darzi recently noted.

The marijuana breathalyzer technology could also be utilized for a marijuana ignition interlock system, much like judges across America require for convicted drunk drivers who want their driving privileges restored. It is one reason Intoxalock, a leader in the alcohol ignition interlock industry, has become a strategic partner and investor in the startup.

Forest And Wildfire Management Hearing Set Ahead Of Draft Report

Forest And Wildfire Management Hearing Set Ahead Of Draft Report

By Terri Jo Neff |

The public is invited to attend the final hearing of the Arizona House Forest and Wildfire Management Ad Hoc Committee during which several updates will be provided on the Telegraph Fire that ravaged more than 180,000 acres last year between Superior and Miami.

The bi-partisan committee, headed by Rep. David Cook (R-Globe), will meet Nov. 21 to hear from Jeff Eisenberg of University of Arizona Cooperative Extension of plans by U of A for a study of the long-term costs of the Telegraph Fire, which burned for four weeks in June and July 2021 and contributed to damaging post-fire flooding during the monsoon. 

As previously reported by AZ Free News, the Arizona Legislature invested $100 million in a wildfire relief package in June 2021. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed a few months later to make recommendations for potential changes to state and federal laws and regulations related to the management of wildfires in Arizona.

Members, which include Reps. Andres Cano, Tim Dunn, Gail Griffin, and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, will also hear on Nov. 21 from Dr. Melanie Colavito and Dr. Andrew Sanchez Meador, both with Northern Arizona University, about a similar long-term costs study they conducted following the 2010 Schultz Fire northeast of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest. 

The agenda further includes a status report by U.S. Forest Service professionals on the progress of repairs to myriad ranching infrastructure damaged by the Telegraph Fire. Committee members also intend to discuss a draft committee report and possible recommendations leading into the new legislative session beginning in January.

Public hearings have previously been conducted by the Ad Hoc Committee in Globe and Flagstaff in an effort to hear directly from those impacted by recent wildfires and post-fire flooding.

Cook previously stressed the need for the Arizona Legislature to examine forest and wildfire management policies and practices “to assess potential improvements that will minimize the impact of these fires on Arizonans and our environment.”

The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. in HHR 3 at the Arizona House of Representatives in Phoenix.  A livestream will be offered at this link.

Monday Ballot Drops Show Democrats Won Three Key Races

Monday Ballot Drops Show Democrats Won Three Key Races

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County’s long-awaited drop of 71,000 ballots on Monday night locked in three key races for Democrats: governor, secretary of state, and senator. The vote results remain unofficial, with two statewide races remaining close.

Republicans easily won the state treasurer’s race with incumbent Kimberly Yee at the helm, leading Democratic challenger Martín Quezada nearly 56 to 44 points. 

Quezada retweeted political commentary indicating that the Democratic Party didn’t offer him enough support, financial or otherwise. 

Incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly will likely win handily over Republican challenger Blake Masters, 51 to 46 percent. 

It appears that Masters issued a preliminary concession on Friday, preparing for what Monday’s returns made more apparent. 

Democrat Katie Hobbs will be Arizona’s 24th governor, becoming the fifth woman to do so. Hobbs pulled in 50 percent of the vote to Republican opponent Kari Lake’s 49 percent. Hobbs announced that she won on Monday, but Lake didn’t concede. 

Rather, Lake questioned why Maricopa County’s top election officials, Recorder Stephen Richer and Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, launched a political action committee (PAC) to defeat certain Republicans. 

Democrat Adrian Fontes prevailed over Republican Mark Finchem in the Secretary of State race, bringing in 52 percent over Finchem’s 47 percent. Fontes declared victory on Monday morning, long before the ballot drop that night.

Finchem refused to believe the results of Monday’s ballot counts. He reminded voters that the polls didn’t reflect the results at all, challenging the ballots’ validity. 

Several races remained too close to call. In the race for superintendent of public instruction, Republican Tom Horne leads Democrat incumbent Kathy Hoffman by .02 percent — just over 6,400 votes. In the attorney general’s race, Democrat Kris Mayes also leads Republican Abraham Hamadeh by .02 percent: nearly 3,200 votes. 

Greenlee and La Paz counties had 100 percent of their votes completed. Yavapai and Gila counties had over 99 percent of their votes completed as of Monday night. Maricopa County had nearly 99 percent of votes completed. Yuma and Pima counties had 98 percent of votes completed. Coconino County had 97 percent of votes completed. Pinal and Navajo counties had 94 percent of votes completed. Cochise County had nearly 91 percent of votes completed. At the rear, Apache County had 74 percent of votes completed. 

Nearly 48,800 ballots remain

No estimated percentages of completion were given for Graham, Mohave, and Santa Cruz counties. Altogether, they account for over 106,100 votes. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

By Corinne Murdock |

A Lake Havasu Unified School District (LHUSD) husband and wife teacher duo became unemployed earlier this month for a porn video filmed in a classroom outside of school hours.

Samantha Peer, who went by the porn alias Khloe Karter, taught eighth grade science at Thunderbolt Middle School. Her husband, Dillon, was a fourth-grade teacher at Nautilus Elementary School. In a “statement” video, Peer blamed low teacher pay for her filming pornography and other explicit content. LHUSD hired Peer in January, paying her a salary over $18,000; the district hired her husband in August on a $31,000 salary.

Peer claimed that she was denied salary increases despite qualifying for them over the course of five years, and her family couldn’t survive on her and her husband’s income alone. Nowhere in the video did she apologize. 

“My children are the most important thing to me, and I’m already spending countless hours outside of my contract time on extra school activities and I don’t think it’s fair that I have to sacrifice my own children’s time because our professional salary did not pay enough,” said Peer. “I created the content at the beginning of the summer in order to earn extra money on the side in order to pay for our basic necessities that our salaries were no longer meeting.”

Peer took on the extra positions in August and September, months after she began her porn side hustle. Peer reported in the video that she advised the yearbook club and STEM club, as well as mentored new teachers. Peer received a $500 stipend for advising the yearbook club and $800 for mentoring the teachers. LHUSD documentation didn’t reflect Peer advising the STEM club.

LHUSD documents also reveal that Peer’s husband, Dillon, received nearly $1,000 in an educator induction grant in mid-August. 

Peer didn’t teach at LHUSD for a consecutive five years. After her fourth year at Thunderbolt Middle School, Peer took a two-year hiatus beginning in 2020 to teach in Houston, Texas. Peer was a science teacher at Dekaney High School at Spring Independent School District.

Peer also claimed that her gym terminated her membership due to harassment from those who’d seen her content. Peer featured her former gym in some of her explicit alias accounts.

“The gym owner chose to terminate my membership although I’d been a member for four years because other juvenile members were harassing me by taking my picture and videotaping me while I was trying to work out,” stated Peer.

Peer hasn’t deleted her explicit social media accounts; she advertises them publicly across both her personal and alias accounts. TikTok did ban her porn alias account earlier this week, but Peer created a new account. Peer also has a public Instagram account for her porn alias featuring her workouts, as well as a Linktree featuring links to her other explicit social media accounts like Reddit as well as a link to her sex toy and lingerie wish list. 

After she was fired, Peer posted a TikTok mocking parents upset by her content. 

“When they judge you for having a spicy account, but it pays more than your vanilla job,” stated Peer.

Her first TikTok video posted October 10 depicts her lip-syncing about how she’s crazy.

“You call me crazy like I didn’t warn you. Yeah, did you think I was just joking? Did you think I was just playing around? No, honey. We’re not well,” mouthed Peer.

In a TikTok lip-sync video posted October 26, Peer stated she would cause problems on purpose for not getting enough attention. This was two days after LHUSD placed Peer on paid administrative leave and probation pending investigation, following a community member filing a complaint about her explicit social media accounts.

“In response to not getting the attention I deserve, I’ve decided I will cause problems on purpose,” mouthed Peer. 

Watch Peer’s video here:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Democrat Julie Gunnigle Concedes Maricopa County Attorney Race

Democrat Julie Gunnigle Concedes Maricopa County Attorney Race

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Democratic candidate in the Maricopa County Attorney’s race, Julie Gunnigle, conceded. 

Gunnigle’s opponent, incumbent Republican Rachel Mitchell, earned 52 percent of the vote to Gunnigle’s 48 percent. In a statement, Gunnigle said that Maricopa County deserved better than Mitchell.

“This isn’t the result we were hoping for because what it means is a continuation of the legacy of corruption within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office,” wrote Gunnigle. “The change we need won’t happen this year, but we aren’t deterred. We vow to keep our eye on this office and, along with the community, continue to demand better for all of Maricopa County.”

Mitchell’s victory statement focused on thanking the voters and the staff of her office.

“Public safety isn’t partisan. All Arizonans demand safe communities in which to live, work, and raise their children,” stated Mitchell. “I will continue working with law enforcement and community leaders to hold criminals accountable, increase the use of treatment to rehabilitate where appropriate, deliver justice for victims, and put the safety of Maricopa County residents first.”

National attention was fixed on the race, mainly for the fact that the county is the fourth-largest in the nation and had the potential to be led by another George Soros-backed prosecutor.

As AZ Free News reported in August, Gunnigle received over $6,500 from Way to Lead Arizona — a political action committee (PAC) funded primarily by its national counterpart, Way to Lead PAC. That PAC received millions from Soros, his family, or the organizations he’s either founded or funded. Gunnigle denied benefiting from Soros funding in May.

This marks Gunnigle’s third campaign loss: she lost in the 2020 general election for Maricopa County Attorney and lost in the 2018 general election for the State House. Gunnigle first began running for office as her former employer, Arizona Summit Law School, faced accreditation troubles. 

Although Gunnigle no longer serves as the shuttered law school’s Dean of Students, she continues to receive support from them.

Gunnigle received thousands in funding from an attorney for Arizona Summit Law School. The donor, Donalyn Mikles, listed her employment as the law school’s attorney. Mikles was one of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs’ top ten donors, after Jennifer Allan-Soros and Planned Parenthood. In all, Mikles has donated over $476,000 to Democratic candidates and political organizations in Arizona and $450,000 to Democratic candidates nationwide

Gunnigle’s loss comes after indications that Democrats appeared to be distancing themselves from her. As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, former minority leader for the state legislature and Democratic consultant Chad Campbell said that Gunnigle’s campaign resembled that of failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate David Garcia. Campbell called Garcia’s campaign the “worst campaign” to have occurred over the last 30 years. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Magnus Resigns As Top Border Official After Controversial Tenure

Magnus Resigns As Top Border Official After Controversial Tenure

By Terri Jo Neff |

Former Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus resigned Saturday, less than one year after being confirmed as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), capping a tumultuous and controversial tenure for the longtime city cop.

His resignation was effective immediately, less than one week after the General Election in which border security, or insecurity, was a hot button topic along the southwest border.

The timing of Magnus’s departure raises serious questions about the priorities of President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to whom Magnus reported.

Mayorkas always expressed public confidence in Magnus, despite intense public objection to the nomination. And neither Biden nor Mayorkas appeared concerned month after month with the increase in the number of large shipments of fentanyl and other illicit drugs making it through the CBP-controlled ports of entry.

In fact, there was little comment from the White House after CBP announced its FY2022 statistics last month. It showed more than 2.2 million “encounters” or apprehension by U.S. Border Patrol along the southwest border, along with more than 172,000 encounters with “inadmissables” at the southwest ports of entry.

Those statistics do not include the estimated 600,000 – 700,000 “gotaways” who were never apprehended at or near the border.

As previously reported by AZ Free News, Magnus came under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks for his lack of attendance at key CBP meetings.

The final straw, however, may have been Magnus’s tone deaf response to a very public incident when outnumbered USBP agents were forced to deploy less-than-lethal munitions to quell an incursion of several hundred border crossers near downtown El Paso on Oct. 31.

Magnus issued a statement the next day in which he noted the CBP Office of Professional Responsibilitywhich is an internal affairs type of unitwas “reviewing this incident.”

Nowhere in his statement did Magnus bother to comment on whether all agents emerged from the situation uninjured.

Yet it appeared Biden was not willing to suffer any political egg on the face until after last week’s General Election. It was not until Nov. 11 that the first outward signs of discord became public, when it was reported that Magnus rejected an ultimatum from higher up officials in the Department of Homeland Security that he resign.

That same day, his official CBP Twitter account was reportedly archived and his access was blocked.

It is unclear whether the resignation demand was made directly by Mayorkas, but Magnus finally submitted his resignation Nov. 12. It was accepted the same day by Biden, according to a White House press release.

Many eyebrows were raised when Biden nominated Magnus back in April 2021 to head the agency’s 60,000 employees at U.S. Border Patrol, CBP’s Office of Field Operations, and Air & Marine Operations. The agency is also in charge of facilitating international travel and trade.

Organizations such as the Western Sheriffs Association criticized the nomination, pointing out Magnus had no management experience with such a large and critical federal agency.

Others, such as the National Border Patrol Council, pointed to the fact Magnus never worked in federal law enforcement.

There were also concerns about the occasional public disdain Magnus expressed toward the role federal border policies play in protecting national security. Having Magnus at the helm of CBP was seen as proof for some who live and work along the U.S. southwest border that Biden had no concern for their communities reeling from an unending influx of border crossers and illegal criminal activity.

The criticism continued after Magnus was confirmed in December 2021. He was seen as preoccupied with internal issues and establishing a strong esprit de corps rather than ensuring CBP officers and USBP agents have the resources and support needed to do their job.

The announcement of Magnus’ resignation provided no reassurance to CBP’s employees nor the public that new leadership has been identified. For now, it is assumed Deputy Commissioner Troy A. Miller will once again serve as Acting CBP Commissioner, a position he held for nearly 12 months until Magnus was confirmed.

Miller’s official biography shows he began his federal law enforcement career nearly 30 years ago as a Customs Inspector. He has held a number of CBP positions in the years since, including Director of Field Operations for CBP’s New York Field Office where he oversaw a district that included John F. Kennedy International Airport and the New York / Newark container seaport.