Advertisement

Swedish authorities siphoning sewage water to measure citizens’ marijuana, cocaine use

An analysis of wastewater from the city of Gävle in Sweden found that 7,349 doses of marijuana was consumed on a single day in 2015.
An analysis of wastewater from the city of Gävle in Sweden found that 7,349 doses of marijuana was consumed on a single day in 2015. FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP/Getty Images

A growing number of Swedish municipalities are adopting a creative, if underhanded way to keep tabs on their citizens’ drug use — analyzing urine from sewage water samples.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports that wastewater collected from city sewers is sent to the Swetox research lab in Stockholm, where cutting-edge technology is used to measure the presence of cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines.

The technology is highly precise — residents of the city of Gävle were found to have snorted 230 doses of cocaine on Christmas Day, and partaken in 7,349 doses of marijuana on a single day in 2015.

READ MORE: This simple new urine test can detect if you have a healthy diet

Gävle’s municipal drug co-ordinator Johnny Gustafsson told SVT that sewage samples offer a more scientific alternative to traditional self-report surveys.

Story continues below advertisement

“We can discover a lot more abuse this way.”

Authorities in some jurisdictions are said to be considering using the method to carry out targeted analyses on specific institutions such as prisons and schools.

Because individual users cannot be identified, the process has so far evaded legal obstacles.

Follow @Kalvapalle

Sponsored content