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Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Sep 15;121(1-2):16-22.

Experience with urine drug testing by the Correctional Service of Canada.

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Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and Dalhousie University, 1278 Tower Road, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 2Y9.


The Correctional Service of Canada implemented a urine drug-screening program over 10 years ago. The objective of this report is to describe the program and drug test results in this program for 1999. Offenders in Canadian federal correctional institutions and those living in the community on conditional release were subject to urine drug testing. Urine specimens were collected at correctional facilities and shipped by courier to MAXXAM Analytics Inc. laboratory. All urine specimens were analyzed for amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine metabolite (benzoylecgonine), opiates, phencyclidine, benzodiazepines, methyl phenidate, meperidine, pentazocine and fluoxetine by immunoassay screening (homogeneous EIA and ELISA assays) followed by GC-MS confirmation. Ethyl alcohol was analyzed when specifically requested. Alternative screening and confirmation methods with lower cut-off values were used, whenever urine specimens were dilute (creatinine <20mg/dl and specific gravity <or=1.003). The number of urine specimens analyzed was 44,722 in 1999 and 6.2% of these specimens were dilute based on creatinine and specific gravity analysis. The positive rate for one or more drugs was 25.5% in 1999. The highest drug positive rates were for cannabinoids (10.7%), morphine (3.2%), cocaine metabolite (3.2%), codeine (2.6%), oxazepam (2.1%), temazepam (1.1%) and ethyl alcohol (1.0%). In correctional institutions (8606 non-dilute specimens analyzed in 1999), 16.4% were positive for cannabinoids, 4.9% positive for codeine and/or morphine and 2.7% positive for oxazepam and/or temazepam. In the 537 dilute specimens collected in institutions, 21% were positive for cannabinoids, 1.3% positive for codeine and/or morphine and 1.3% positive for oxazepam and/or temazepam. In the community setting, 33,928 non-dilute specimens were collected in 1999 (9.0% were positive for cannabinoids and 3.5% positive for cocaine metabolite). In the 1651 dilute specimens collected from offenders in the community in 1999, 12.6% were positive for cannabinoids and 9.5% positive for cocaine metabolite. We conclude that forensic urine drug testing provides an objective measure of drug use by offenders in Canadian federal institutions and those offenders living in the community on conditional release.

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