Using wastewater‐based analysis to monitor the effects of legalized retail sales on cannabis consumption in Washington State, USA

Source: Daniel A. Burgard, Jason Williams, Danielle Westerman, Rosie Rushing, Riley Carpenter, Addison LaRock, Jane Sadetsky, Jackson Clarke, Heather Fryhle, Melissa Pellman, Caleb J. Banta‐Green, Addiction, Early View, First published: June 18, 2019
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From the abstract:
Aims:
To perform a wastewater‐based analysis to explore the impact of newly legalized retail cannabis sales on its use and to determine if this approach could estimate the size of the legal market place, which began 1 August 2014 in the study area.

Design:
Laboratory study of raw wastewater samples collected and analyzed over the 3‐year period from 2014 to 2016.

Setting and Participants:
Samples obtained from the two wastewater treatment plants that serviced a municipality of 200 000 people in the state of Washington, USA.

Measurements:
Quantitative analysis of 24‐hour composite influent samples for the metabolite of the active ingredient in cannabis, 11‐nor‐9‐Carboxy‐Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC‐COOH) were performed by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry.

Findings:
Wastewater estimates for THC‐COOH increased by 9% per quarter, suggesting a doubling in cannabis consumption from 1 December 2013 to 31 December 2016. State‐sold THC increased at nearly 70% per quarter, while stores operated from 1 August 2014 to 31 December 2016. Estimating the proportion of the total cannabis market supplied by state‐regulated cannabis from these data is not currently achievable.

Conclusion:
A wastewater‐based measure of cannabis consumption suggests a significant increase in consumption in Washington, USA following legalization, and that legal sales appear to have displaced a large portion of the illicit market.

Related:
Shift to Legal Pot Shows Up In Wastewater
Source: Futurity, June 24, 2019

Cannabis use has both increased and substantially shifted from the illicit market since retail sales began in 2014 in Washington state, report researchers.