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Science Thursday - January 3, 2013

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Posted: January 3, 2013   1:20 PM

Massachusetts completes its review of all state crime labs after the alleged misconduct at Hinton State lab, Washington creates a committee to prevent marijuana testing from causing a backlog in drug labs, and federal funds for forensic research is in jeopardy despite the agreement reached on the fiscal cliff. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
After a chemist allegedly faked drug tests at the Hinton State Crime lab, the Association of Public Health Laboratories conducted a review of all 17 other state crime labs in Massachusetts. The report showed all crime labs met industry standards but suggested that the management system did not have a “consistent delegation of responsibility.”
Washington State crime laboratories and law enforcement officials are determining how to address an increased backlog due to the state’s new marijuana laws. Now, a determination of the quantity of certain chemicals, rather than just the presence, causes the lab analyses to take more time.
After the closing of a satellite crime lab, numerous cases in Houston County, Alabama, sit on district court waiting lists due to delays in drug testing. More than 300 felony drug cases in the county have backlogged evidence at the state Department of Forensic Sciences.
Though a deal to resolve the immediate fiscal cliff was reached, US lawmakers delayed mandatory spending cuts that could threaten science funding. If an agreement is not reached on this topic, the automatic sequester would cut federal support for research and development by $57 billion and potentially greatly affect research of forensic disciplines.

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