Testing It Up

Court Strikes Down Mandatory Drug Testing for Students at ACLU

In a decision to a class-action lawsuit earlier this week, a federal district court told Linn State Technical College to end its unconstitutional program of requiring all of its students to submit to drug-testing.

drug testingThe suit was brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.

“Linn State required every incoming student to be tested for drugs, even though many of them would not be engaged in dangerous activities,” said Jason Williamson, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, and co-counsel on the case, ”and the college had no reason to believe any particular student was using drugs. Any student who refused to submit to the drug test—which is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment—would be denied the opportunity to pursue their education at Linn State.

“Students should not be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to further their education, and we’re thrilled that the court has struck down the policy. Our victory should serve as a warning to colleges and universities across the country: mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of the entire student body has no place in education.”

September 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm Comments (0)

Preventive Drug Testing On Pregnant Women Implemented In Greater Cincinnati

The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metropolitan area aims to get serious in preventing drug-related complications for newborn children, as it starts to subject expectant moms to drug testing.

pregnancy drug abuseAs bizarre as it may sound, Greater Cincinnati has already begun the controversial practice of checking pregnant women for drug use. This stemmed from earlier studies that a woman who immerses herself in drugs might affect the growth of the child while inside her womb.

Greater Cincinnati Health Council spokesperson Brenda Yablonsky shared in a news report that health experts are concerned about the increase in occurrence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in babies, primarily caused by the dependence of the mothers on drugs. In their locality, Yablonsky said NAS cases shot up in three years. In 2009, NAS incidents were 11 in every 1,000 births. However, the number alarmingly increased to 36 per thousand.

Critics and human rights activists need not panic, though, as the drug testing is not mandatory. All expectant mothers will be given the information prior to testing, and they can say “no” to the procedure.

The council, however, recommends the drug testing to all moms not to screen them, but rather to proceed with steps necessary to prevent the child from developing NAS. The symptoms of this condition can manifest as early as the first week of birth, and early diagnosis can help a lot in the child’s future life.

September 8, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Three of World’s Best Sprinters Fail Drug Tests

The sport of track and field has been unwavering in its battle against use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sunday’s news, however, struck a different tone, as three of the world’s best runners were found positive for drugs in their respective tests.

Photo credits from Flickr (L-R): Tab59, Jonas Witt, André Zehetbauer

Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, and Sherone Simpson
Photo credits from Flickr (L-R): Tab59, Jonas Witt, André Zehetbauer

US sprinter Tyson Gay, who currently holds the American record for 100-meter dash, failed an out-of-competition drug testing conducted last May. In a news release, Gay claims to have “put my trust in someone and I was let down,” implying that he had no knowledge that a banned substance was introduced into his system.

The identity of the illegal substance has not yet been made known to the public by Gay or US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief Travis Tygart.

This seems like a big hurdle for Gay, who has been a transparent advocate against drug use in the sport. He has been active in USADA’s testing program “My Victory” to exemplify his clean living as an athlete, and so far he has not failed the tests — not until the most recent one. Because of his failure in the drug test, Gay has voluntarily withdrawn from the world championships.

Another 100-meter sprinter and former record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica was found with oxilofrine in his system when he underwent a test for the national championships in Jamaica last June. Powell took to Twitter to defend himself: “I am not now – nor have I ever been – a cheat.” Fellow Jamaican runner Sherone Simpson tested positive for the same substance, and released a similar message saying that she “would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form” into her own body.

Despite the grim situation, Powell sees the silver lining, saying that he “will come out stronger and wiser and better prepared to deal with the many twists and turns of being a professional athlete.”

July 15, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

UK Set to Crack Down on Drugged Driving Starting Next Year

Starting next year, people in the United Kingdom busted behind the wheel under the influence of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, ecstasy or prescription drugs being used in a non-medical way, could face fines and possible jail time.

To help catch drugged drivers, British police will start using new “drugalyzer” devices, which are similar to breathalyzers but which test for small traces of drugs in an individual’s system. People who are busted for driving while under the influence of illicit drugs or prescription drugs that are being misused will face a 12-month driving ban, six months in jail and a fine of up to £5,000 (roughly $7,400).He has a steering wheel, so he is technically driving, too.

Anyone driving under the influence of legally prescribed medication will not be penalized unless they have taken more than the recommended dose or have ignored a doctor’s warning not to drive while on the drug.

“Drug-driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives. That is why we are proposing to take a zero-tolerance approach with those who drive under the influence,” Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said. “We know that the vast majority of people who use prescription drugs are doing so responsibly. That is why our approach does not unduly penalize drivers who have taken properly prescribed medicines.”

Experts predict that cracking down on drugged drivers will save at least 200 lives a year.

July 10, 2013 at 7:01 am Comments (0)

New TV Shows Hop on the DNA Testing Bandwagon

Two new shows have popped up to carry on the torch of what Jerry Springer started and Maury Povich perfected.

Hosted by TV personality Kirk Fox, The Test is billed as a one-hour conflict-resolution talk show that will use lie detector tests, drug tests and DNA tests to settle relationship and paternity disputes among guests.dna

The Test fills a growing niche in daytime television that the audience is really responding to,” said Joe DiSalvo, president of sales at CBS Television Distribution.

The Test has been sold to Tribune Broadcasting and 29 Sinclair Communications stations, among others.

Another show that is using DNA testing as its premise is the aptly-named Paternity Court, which sees family lawyer and legal analyst Lauren Lake act as judge as she hears and rules on paternity cases and renders DNA test results.

The show will be produced by MGM Domestic Television Distribution, and 79th and York Entertainment and will appear on stations from CBS, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Broadcasting, Weigel Broadcasting, Cox Media Group, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Meredith Corporation, Local TV, Journal Communications and Fisher Communications.

It recently began filming and it will premiere on Sept. 23, 2013.

July 1, 2013 at 11:48 am Comments (0)

CADCA hosts Twitter chat on synthetic drugs for International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

As you may or may not know, today, June 26, is the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

CADCA hosted a Twitter chat about synthetic drugs. It wasn’t huge but it was interesting. If you missed it, here is a Storify summary of it. (This does not represent all of the tweets exchanged during the chat.)

If the Storify embed is still having a glitch, you can access it here.

 

June 26, 2013 at 11:05 am Comments (0)

Elderly Sober Man Charged with DUI Plans to Sue Arizona Police

A seemingly simple DUI case has turned into a racist issue and a possible lawsuit.

Jessie Thornton, 64, was stopped in Surprise, Arizona by police who claimed that he was drunk driving. According to Thornton, the police officers pulled him over because he ran the white line in the middle of the road. The cops then declared that his eyes were red, as reported in the Daily Mail.

“An officer walked up and he said, ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes.’ I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes,’” Thornton said. But the Ohio native said that he just came from swimming at LA Fitness, hence the red eyes.

Apparently the cops weren’t convinced, and proceeded to conduct a sobriety test. True enough, the breathalyzer read a blood alcohol level of “0.00″, which means that there was zero alcohol in his bloodstream. Thornton confirmed this, saying that he did not drink any alcoholic drinks prior to driving.

Despite this, the officers brought him to the station, where he was subjected to drug tests for possible substance abuse. The station’s drug recognition expert declared him completely “free from impairment” caused by drugs.

After being released, Thornton learned that his driver’s license was going to be suspended for the time being, and his vehicle impounded for three days.

Thornton claims that the arrest was fueled not by DUI but by race. He says he was DWB — driving while black. He is now in talks with a lawyer for a possible lawsuit against the Surprise police station, amounting to $500,000 in damages.

June 11, 2013 at 12:30 am Comments (0)

Texas Legislature Endorses Unemployment Drug Testing Bill to Gov. Rick Perry

Soon, applying for unemployment benefits is not going to be easy for some Texans after the State Legislature approved a drug testing bill for laid-off workers.

Senate Bill 21, introduced by Republican Senator Tommy Williams (The Woodlands) in February, passed the House on May 22 by a 104-42 vote. On Saturday, it received Senate approval during the final weekend of sessions for the 83rd Texas legislature. The controversial bill is now awaiting Gov. Rick Perry’s signature.

Under SB 21, laid-off workers applying for unemployment benefits will be required to answer a state questionnaire. If their answers raise a red flag they will be asked to submit to a drug test. A person who tests negative for drug use will continue to receive federal benefits. However, those who fail the drug test will lose unemployment assistance until they pass a subsequent drug test that will be conducted four weeks after the previous one.

Williams earlier said that the provisions included in SB 21 complies with existing federal laws. He said the goal of the legislation is to maintain competence in the workforce.

Under current law, employers take out insurance policies to help workers who have been laid off. Benefit payments are anywhere from $60 to $400 per week.

May 29, 2013 at 1:28 am Comment (1)

Police Claim Difficulty In Identifying Marijuana-DUI Offenders

Despite recent news of medical marijuana bills being approved into law in several states across the US, law enforcers are unsure about the implementation of these new laws.

Marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington specifically state that drivers are considered under the influence of marijuana if a test shows at least 5 nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood. But unlike DUI cases involving alcohol, breathalyzers cannot be used by the police to measure THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana — in the bloodstream of suspected drivers.

Psychiatry assistant professor R. Andrew Sewell of Yale School of Medicine said in a news release that the relationship between THC levels and driver impairment has not been scientifically ascertained. Some people have a high tolerance for THC, especially those who have been smoking pot regularly. The limits of the law could only result in two things: the assessor can either miss the impaired driver, or apprehend someone who can actually handle the THC limit.

Procedures for testing THC levels in the bloodstream are made available for assessing drivers. A step-by-step assessment process developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police involves an eye exam, and motor skills evaluation for the suspected user, such as the one-foot balance and a walk-and-turn test. However, only a small portion of the whole police force — less than 1% to be exact — are trained for this procedure to detect pot impairment.

Technology is still catching up to accurately detect marijuana use. The system of identifying alcohol-DUI cases in Washington is already one step ahead, as arrested or convicted drivers are required to install a vehicle starter device that detects alcohol from the driver’s breath. Law enforcers and legislators are hopeful that a similar technology can be developed for pot-DUI cases in the future.

May 21, 2013 at 1:00 am Comments (5)

School District in Kansas to Stop Random Drug Testing After Over 5 Years

A school district in Wichita, Kansas will drop its random drug testing policy to focus more on substance abuse prevention and education programs.

Maize school district leaders decided earlier this month to discontinue drug testing students who want to join extracurricular activities.

Under the policy, students in 7th grade and onwards should submit to a possible drug test if they want to join school-sponsored activities, such as sports, band, school dances, graduation ceremonies and even parking in the school lot.

But apart from being expensive, it appears that not all students are partial in having to go through the procedure.

Karen McDermott, spokeswoman for Maize schools, told The Wichita Eagle that the decision to drop the school district’s drug testing policy was based on the feedback they got from the school district’s administration, as well as from the students.

McDermott added that Maize spent more than $31,000 on drug testing since it began in 2007, but only four students tested positive. She said the program was financed through grant funds when it started. However, when the funding began to deplete, they were forced to get the money from the district’s general fund.

Maize, though, will still continue to drug test students suspected of drug use and utilize drug-sniffing dogs to search for illegal substances in lockers and school parking lots. McDermott also mentioned that part of Maize’s substance abuse prevention plans for next year is to train teachers and staff members to spot signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

May 1, 2013 at 7:00 am Comments (0)

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