Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Bill Graveland
Page: B3


CALGARY - It looks like Canadian Olympic gold medalist snowboarder
Ross Rebagliati may have been right all along.

Rebagliati, the first Olympic gold medalist for Men's Snowboarding at
the 1998 Winter Olympics, was initially disqualified after THC, the
main ingredient in marijuana, was found in his system in a drug test.

The decision was eventually overturned since cannabis wasn't a banned
substance but Rebagliati maintained the positive drug test was the
result of second-hand smoke.

Now a study from the Cummings School of Medicine at the University of
Calgary seems to support his claim.

"This study points to the Ross Rebagliati hypothesis - there is a
possibility that it is entirely possible to have THC levels within a
non-smoker from just being exposed to smoke in a closed area," Fiona
Clement, the principal author of the study published online in the
Canadian Medical Association Journal Open, said Thursday.

The study found THC is detectable in the body after as little as 15
minutes of exposure even if the person is not actively smoking it.
Findings suggest anyone exposed to second-hand smoke in a poorly
ventilated room including a kitchen, basement, or living room with the
windows closed, will test positive.

It can take between 24 and 48 hours for the THC to clear from the
system and Clement said that could be particularly problematic for
employees who work in jobs where there is a zero-tolerance drug policy.

"Those who are not smoking can test positive in blood and urine tests
for THC to levels that would lead to failing drug tests in certain
areas depending on the limit that's adopted," Clement said.

The research suggests the chemical composition of secondhand marijuana
smoke is similar to that of tobacco although differences in the
concentrations of the components vary.

Clement said mirroring public health legislation to protect workers
and the general public from second-hand tobacco exposure would be
appropriate for marijuana as well.

"As we move towards legalization in July, there will be a need to
develop bylaws or regulations about where people can smoke and really
this evidence feeds into the same kinds of regulations that we have
for tobacco smoking, so no smoking in restaurants or public places,"
she said.

Clement points out that people who inhale second-hand marijuana smoke
have reported getting high and that could also mean they are legally
impaired when behind the wheel to drive.

The federal government's plan to legalize marijuana by next summer
moved a step closer this week after the proposed legislation received
final approval in the House of Commons.

It now moves to the Senate, where Conservative senators are
threatening to hold up passage.
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