SPOKANE (AP) — The author of Washington’s recreational pot law has suggested that Spokane test its sewage for traces of the cannabis chemical THC as a general measure of pot use by residents.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Alison Holcomb proposed the idea at a Tuesday meeting of the City Council’s marijuana policy subcommittee, The Spokesman-Review reports.
Testing sewage for the psychoactive element from marijuana provides a more accurate level of trends than self-reporting on surveys, Holcomb said, citing research at the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound.
“Nobody can lie about what’s showing up in the sewage,” she said.
The meeting included representatives of schools, law enforcement agencies, nonprofits and local government to discuss what information needs to be collected as policymakers look to maximize marijuana revenue while ensuring public safety.
Testing sewage, which can be frozen for later inspection, would provide only general use figures, not data broken down by age, said Holcomb.
Councilman Jon Snyder supported the idea.
“What an awesome new use for our sewage,” he said to laughter from those at the meeting.
Spokane wastewater director Dale Arnold said he would check with a lab this week to find out how difficult it is to get THC readings from wastewater.
“A large portion of that wastewater doesn’t come out of human beings,” Arnold said.