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
– 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 [email protected]
Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS