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Science Thursday - December 6, 2012

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Posted: December 6, 2012   2:30 PM

Washington state crime labs tackle issues related to the legalization of marijuana, Massachusetts might have to wait for funds to assist with fallout from a lab scandal, and legislators from West Virginia visit a forensic center. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
Since possession of marijuana has been legalized in Washington State, crime labs are now trying to establish protocols for testing marijuana components in blood. With more blood samples coming into crime labs and toxicology departments, a quantitative threshold for impairment, similar to that of blood alcohol content levels, needs to be established.
In Nebraska, the merger between the Omaha and Douglas County crime labs has reached an impasse for several reasons including inflexibility, questions concerning one lab’s credibility, and frustration over upgrades. In order to overcome the stalled efforts, various supporters are drafting legislation to ensure a merger.
Researchers from the United Kingdom have adopted various visualization techniques to possibly identify latent footwear impressions left at crime scenes. Latent footprints often go undetected on fabric, but this new methodology hopes to avoid that oversight.
Though Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick filed for $30 million in early November to cover costs arising from the misconduct at the Hinton State crime lab, the request might have to wait until next year. Currently, any lawmaker can stall the proceedings during informal sessions which last until the end of 2012.
State legislators from West Virginia toured the Marshall University Forensic Science Center to learn about services provided by the Center, including DNA testing of rape kits to assist with a backlog in Detroit.

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