Forensic labs throughout Canada will most likely be overwhelmed with samples of blood, urine, saliva and hair as soon as recreational marijuana becomes legal. This is what Public Safety Canada is concerned about as the government moves forward towards legalization of marijuana. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised legislation will be finalized by spring and a distribution system should be in place by the beginning of 2018.
Ottawa said that it expected an increase in the amount of people using marijuana as it becomes legal; therefore, meaning more people abusing marijuana. Public Safety Canada published documents Monday morning stating that as usage increases, police may be doing more testing for the presence of weed.
“It should be expected that the number of samples requiring lab analysis will increase dramatically once cannabis is legalized, simply because the police will be reacting to the new regime with a similar approach as they do for driving under the influence of alcohol,” the documents note.
“Roadside checks and random screening of drivers for drugs will likely occur more often, thus increasing the number of samples that will need to be tested for drugs.”
The government is looking to hire an outside contractor to find out if labs across Canada can handle the large amounts of samples anticipated. 80 labs to be surveyed’ As per the documents, the contractor will send out questionnaires to approximately eighty Canadian labs as well as some American labs. The final report should provide suggestions for avoiding backlogs.
Christine Nielsen, CEO of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) says that the fact that American labs are being included in the study implies Canada may be looking for help to keep up with the increased workload. “They may already know there’s no capacity in Canada,” Nielsen said. “That would be what we call a ‘send out.’ That means it has to go somewhere for timely testing.”
She adds that different provinces will have different capacities of testing samples, depending highly on the form of test that will be utilized to measure the drugs in one’s system.
“Especially when you’re dealing with a justice case, (the tests) are life altering,” Nielsen said. “We just want to make sure that the facilities that are assigned this work have the proper standards in place.”
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