Lab Matters Spring 2017 - Page 5

president's / executive director’s message safer and healthier lives. I march for science that has lead us to life-saving newborn screening programs. I march for science to show support for the researchers, clinicians, nurses and other health professionals that have cared for my family and those we love. I march for science to honor my three brothers, scientists all. I march because I care about the future of our planet, our country and our community. I march because evidence will always matter.” Whelen: That’s a great tribute, and I’m glad you did that. Anonymity is a liability in this day and age. We need to add as many voices as possible in defense of science. I think money put toward public health laboratories is money well spent. Whenever there’s budgetary pressure, I welcome a competitive review of our laboratory contributions because I know, dollar for dollar, laboratories measure up with the best of all government programs out there. The things that well-run, reasonably resourced labs can accomplish are phenomenal. But if labs fall below critical mass in funding or leadership or facility or logistics, then the laboratory cannot operate properly and becomes vulnerable. Becker: Even after the march is over, I encourage all of our Lab Matters readers to continue to advocate for laboratory science and funding and to showcase the impact laboratory science has had in their congressional district. One area that needs more evidence-based, laboratory oversight is medical and ‘adult use’ cannabis—an issue featured in this edition of Lab Matters. For example, Chris, medical marijuana is legal in Hawaii. What’s the laboratory’s role in that? Whelen: Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana 17 years ago, but there was no legal way to obtain it. Almost two years ago, the Hawaii Department of Health assumed responsibility for standing up a dispensary system. No good deed goes unpunished, so we faced high profile activities under incredibly short timelines. We agreed to do this with the understanding that we would be allowed to put health and safety of patients first. Consequently, we wrote into administrative rules tolerances for chemical and microbial contaminants, and required potency determinations. We also require all private cannabis-testing laboratories to have ISO 17025 accreditation to take the burde n off the state public health laboratory for assuring they meet recognized standards for good lab practices. Our focus is more assisting labs with regulatory compliance rather than compliance enforcement. These labs have a big job ahead of them, and although we want them to be successful, we don’t want to compromise safety. Becker: Compliance assistance is a big job in its own right, especially since these cannabis programs require multiple laboratory specialties and the science base is still evolving. As we have said, science matters. This is just one more example of why public health laboratories are so important. “ I march because I care about the future of our planet, our country, our community. I march because evidence will always matter.” – Scott Becker, MS Let me end our conversation with a request to our readers to please send us your March for Science photos, so we can share them online and in the next edition of Lab Matters. Simply e-mail them to Gynene Sullivan at gynene.sullivan@aphl.org. PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS 3