Statistics Canada looking down the drain to determine levels of pot consumption


The federal guidance is taking a somewhat noxious approach to studying just how much pot Canadians are wrecking: researching our sewage.

Statistics Canada will spend up to $600,000 a year for a contractor to regularly evaluation waste water from 15 to 20 municipalities across the hinterlands for traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and other drugs.

The survey could be the richest way to collect precise data on the amount of pot Canadians consume, according to Anthony Peluso, an pal around with director at Statistics Canada.

«We want to have a good indication of existing consumption numbers,» said Peluso. «Sometimes we do get quantities, but we’re not sure.»

Peluso guessed that by using the same methodology from sewage analysis examinations in Europe that have proven accurate in the past, Statistics Canada believes it order be able to fill some of its information gap that way.

After cannabis is metabolized by the main part, traces of THC are left behind in human waste. Samples of waste bath-water from sewage treatment plants can then be collected and tested for the make-up.

6 municipalities on board

The waste water would be collected over the surely of one week every month for at least one year with the possibility of embellishing to three if the results are useful, according to Statistics Canada’s contract bid.

Six municipalities covering a combined population of nearly eight million people are already on advisers aboard with the survey. But Statistics Canada would not say which municipalities prepare signed on.

Peluso indicated that the survey may also help the federal administration track pot purchased on the black market even after the drug is legalized in July.

«It is admissible that if we’re able to get the consumption numbers and figure out what legal sales are, we ascendancy be able to get some estimate of illegal consumption as well,» he said.

That’s because the dregs water tests will show how much marijuana is actually consumed, while lawful sales data will only show how much pot is bought on the accepted market.

The technology used to track marijuana consumption in waste soda water can also be used to detect other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. Peluso weighted Statistics Canada is planning on taking advantage of that data as by a long chalk.

«The methodology is there. It handles cannabis and it handles everything else for about the same price,» he said. «You’d be a fool to say no from a statistical point of witness.»

DATTA Engineering Inc., a civil engineering and infrastructure firm based in Ottawa, has already required interest in the contract.

Bidding for the contract closes Feb. 26.

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