Statistics Canada will be taking a somewhat creative approach to figuring out how much pot Canadians are actually consuming after the drug is legalized this summer.
Namely, testing the wastewater we flush down the toilet.
The agency issued a call for tender for the work on Monday morning, noting that wastewater in “perhaps 15 or 20” municipalities across the country will be tested on a monthly basis for “cannabis metabolites” and unnamed “other drugs.”
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The analysis is expected to start before marijuana is legalized this July, and continue in the months following legalization.
It could provide the agency with a more accurate estimate of how much of the drug is actually being consumed than could be obtained through a traditional survey.
The consumption of drugs leaves behind biomarkers in human waste. As toilets are flushed across communities, the levels of those markers in the wastewater rises.
“The supplier will be responsible for assisting municipalities in the implementation of appropriate sampling techniques, in performing the analyses, and in communicating the results to the agency,” the tender documents note.
The documents do not state which other drugs may be tested for in the wastewater, or which cities will be targeted in the initiative. Global News has reached out to the agency for more information.
This idea isn’t a new one. Similar studies in Europe have proven quite effective at measuring the levels of drug use in various cities, detecting everything from marijuana and methamphetamines to ecstasy and cocaine.
Last April, Swedish public broadcaster SVT reported that wastewater collected from city sewers in the country was being sent to a lab for analysis, with scientists measuring the presence of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines.
The technology was said to be highly precise, even revealing the approximate number of doses of cocaine and marijuana residents of the city of Gävle consumed on Christmas Day.
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