Testing It Up » March 2010

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnancy Rumors: Sandra Bullock, Beyonce and Kristen Stewart

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As they say, when it rains, it pours. It seems like this is what’s happening with pregnancy rumors these days. We’ve been hearing celebrity pregnancy stories left and right, and we can’t help but check how true these stories are.

sandra bullockSandra Bullock

In the wake of infidelity reports against his husband Jesse James, Sandra Bullock is also in the midst of rumors that she is pregnant with their first child. Bullock is said to be devastated with the news of her husband cheating and has chosen to skip events and spend time in seclusion in her home in Hollywood Hills. She seems to be a great woman, and we’re sure she would make a great mom, but we wish these rumors don’t turn out to be true as any woman deserves to experience motherhood in the most special way possible.

Beyonce

After several online communities got busy last week when a report claiming to have a “rock solid source” said that Beyonce is pregnant and that husband Jay-Z is “extremely happy” with it, a publicist from her label, Sony, says this is not true.

Kristen Stewart

It is not the first time we’ve heard about Twilight stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson expecting a baby. The rumors first broke out last year and fans have been anticipating for months, and still no little baby. You would expect the rumors to simply die and fade away, but it just gets reborn again and again. Well, as for now, probably the baby we can expect from this hot couple is Renesmee of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, Stewart’s and Pattinson’s characters in the blockbuster Twilight saga.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: What Should Companies Do?

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In a previous post, we shared with you how Wal-Mart associate Joseph Casias lost his job after testing positive for marijuana, which he was using to deal with the pain associated with sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

medical marijuanaWith this precedent and the reaction that followed after Wal-Mart fired Casias, other companies in Battle Creek, Michigan, are figuring out how a situation such as Mr. Casias’ ought to be handled, as shared in an article on the Battle Creek Enquirer. Casias has a medical marijuana card that proves that he is using the substance to treat a valid medical condition, under the supervision of a physician.

Marijuana for medical purposes was made legal in Michigan in 2008. The conditions covered by the law include cancer, Hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, and HIV/AIDS. However, there is no specification in the prevailing law that provides protection to users covered by the ruling from discrimination at work, according to Michigan Medical Marijuana Association executive director Greg Francisco.

In contrast, the law that governs intoxication is clear, as shared by Francisco: “The law is very clear that employees cannot be intoxicated or use marijuana on the job, and nobody is saying anyone has the right to use marijuana on the job. At the same time, we would hope employers would have a sense of decency.”

Several companies gave their two cents regarding the issue, with most, it seems, adhering to a “zero-tolerance” policy as far as drugs – including marijuana – is concerned. None, though, have been faced with what Wal-Mart had with Casias.

Michigan Drug Screening

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Breath Analyzer Deemed Acceptable by Florida Judges

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The State Attorney’s Office of Palm Beach County announced on Monday that an attempt by defense attorneys to have breath test cases dismissed has been unsuccessful, based on an article on The Palm Beach Post. Defense had argued that the instrument used to measure blood alcohol levels – the Intoxilyzer 8000 – was not an approved breath instrument. They also claimed that police officers who inspect and maintain the instrument destroy evidence of inspections that fail.

breath analyzerThere are more than 400 DUI cases whose progress have been stalled because of the defense’ questioning of the reliability of the breath analyzer. These cases are now expected to move forward.

Palm Beach County judges ruled that the defense was unable to establish the deliberate and “malicious” destruction of evidence by police. They also affirmed that the instrument was approved.

State Attorney Michael McAuliffe released a statement to the media on Monday, which reads in part: “The State showed that the Defendants’ assertions in the motions had no basis in fact… The court, in seven county judges’ orders, re-affirmed the long-standing law enforcement practice of using the Intoxilyzer 8000 as a tool to measure alcohol in a driver’s blood.”

Defense lawyer Brian Gabriel, however, claims that they were not given enough opportunity to summarize what was described as “complicated scientific evidence”. Gabriel mentioned further that he felt that “the importance of some of the exhibits was lost on the court.”

Gabriel also said that there is still an intention to argue on appeal that the Intoxilyzer 8000 was accepted for use by the state of Florida despite having failed steps required to become an approved instrument.

Florida Drug Screening

Substance Abuse

Russia Has Banned Salvia and Other Substances

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In a bid to prevent the use of such substances for the purpose of getting cheap and until now legal highs Russia has decided to ban Salvia, Hawaiian Woodrose, Blue Lotus Flowers, and 23 synthetic cannabinoids (largely items used by smokers seeking psychoactive effects). These items

salvia

were added to the controlled substances list and banned in the region based on a proposal by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development who proposed tightening controls over the sale and consumption of smoking mixes and submitted its proposal to the government for coordination.
Salvia is banned in many other countries and is being considered for action in several others. Among those that have banned the drug are Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Sweden. While it hasn’t yet been banned in the US its sales have been banned or restricted in about a dozen states. Synthetic cannabindoids, marketed under names like “K2” and “Spice” have been banned in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Some concern has been raised about these drugs because they are neither regulated nor considered truly safe for regular use. In some areas where such drugs are commonly used there have even been overdoses and a few cases of fatal reaction to the drug “spice”. These drug reactions and the prevalence of use among young adults has brought attention to their use and caused many of the bans now in place and being evaluated.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana Symposium Series in San Diego

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A news release on CNN Money announces the conduct of a National Educational Symposium Series by Medical Marijuana Inc. The symposium will be held on March 27 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The symposium will be attended by prominent industry experts, which will include Bruce Perlowin, the Chairman and CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc.; Don Wirkshafter, industry extpert; Lanny Swerdlow, registered nurse and manager of THCF in Riverside, California; and Dan Ruderalis of Americans for Safe Access. These speakers will talk about related events in San Diego as well as in other areas.

medical marijuanaThe day will consist of segmented classes, lectures and consultations that will be given by the following, as listed on the news release: experts, tax advisers, Northern California growers, cooperative founders, medical marijuana physicians, patients and caregivers. Participants can learn about, among other things, the history of hemp, cannabis, marijuana around the world, legal compliance and cannabis cultivation.

There will also be a private screening of the Kevin Booth film “How Weed Won The West” on Saturday evening at 8 pm. The film will then be followed by a social networking event that will last from 9 until 11:30 in the evening.

Medical Marijuana Inc. is a publicly-traded company, the first of its kind in the United States that is engaged in the cannabis industry. Their description in the release mentions the company’s recognition of “the vast and unequaled opportunities that exist in the rapidly expanding medical marijuana industry,” citing the fact that the use of marijuana “as an effective, non-narcotic pain reliever has brought Medical Marijuana use to the forefront of mainstream discussion.”

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Bisphenol A in Plastics Gets FDA Attention

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Finally acknowledging that there may be some concern about the safety of the chemical (which is found in many types of flood related plastics including baby bottles and sippy cups) the FDA pledged that they’d study the chemical far more closely but were unlikely to set any regulations for the chemical. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued recommendations to consumers including one to throw away any scratched cups and bottles with Bisphenol A because small amounts of the chemical can seep out and be ingested by children. baby-bottle-1983

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is added to many plastics and liners of canned goods, including liquid baby formula according to studies with lab animals the chemical might increase the risk of developmental problems in some fetuses and young children, along with other negative side effects.

“Recent reports show subtle effects of BPA in lab animals that has raised concerns,’’ William Corr, deputy secretary of Health and Human Services. “We are taking a much closer look,’’

While the FDA maintains that the chemical is safe for use in adults and children it’s now decided to acknowledge that it may not be safe for infants and smaller children.

Massachusetts Congressman Edward J. Markey who is a lead author of a bill to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers, said the announcement was important for keeping young children safe.“The Obama administration is not only restoring science to its rightful place in public health policy decision making, but is also signaling its plans to take bold steps to keep this dangerous chemical out of the reach of children,’’ he said. “It is clear that BPA poses serious health risks.’’

Drug Testing Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Nebraska Expects Welfare Recipients to Pass Drug Test for Benefits

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A new bill that is being passed to the Nebraska state legislature is asking that recipients of welfare benefits be tested for drug use to determine if welfare benefits should be given. The idea had been discussed by several states last year but prohibitive aspects such as cost and court challenges were enough to cauwelfarese the idea to be dropped. Senator Charlie Janssen has developed a bill that would help develop a plan to test welfare recipients and applicants for drugs.  Positive drug test results would result in a one year loss of benefits.

Janssen feels that the move could help prove that benefits were truly acting as a help up rather than a hand out.

“When a taxpayer gives assistance to somebody, it’s assistance so they can get back up on their feet,” Janssen said. “It’s kind of a slap in the face to the taxpayers when they say, ‘We’re going to get up on our feet while we’re doing drugs.’”

There’s a good chance that the bill won’t be passed this year( largely due to the high cost such a program would take to get started) but Janssen feels that the move could help save the state money over time.

“This is part of our budget woes … paying people who aren’t truly trying to rehabilitate themselves and get off the state welfare system,” he said. “But the short-term cost right now is probably going to be overwhelming.”

Drug testing welfare recipients is a hotly debated issue and with good reason. Many of those who want to enact laws that require this type of testing cite reasons that assume that drug use is consistent and wide spread among those on welfare. While many of those who are receiving these benefits feel that their rights would be violated not because they are users but precisely because they aren’t and never have been.

Many welfare programs ask participants to provide many forms of personal information and many hours of personal time to job search programs that have proven ineffective in the face of the current economic troubles. Already feeling invaded upon many of those who receive benefits feel that drug testing would be the last straw in a list of hurdles they’ve already faced to prove they’re worthy of receiving benefits in their time of need.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Man with Multiple Sclerosis Gets 5 Years for Marijuana Use in New Jersey

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A man who is suffering from multiple sclerosis and is using marijuana for his treatment regimen has been sentenced to five years in state prison, according to an article by Samantha Henry of The Associated Press and posted on R&D Magazine.

John Ray Wilson was sentenced on Friday after being convicted of second degree manufacturing of marijuana and third degree possession of psychedelic mushrooms in December. At the time of his conviction, New Jersey did not have a law that sanctioned the use of marijuana for medical purposes, which was one of the things that State Superior Court Judge Robert Reed reportedly pointed out in his ruling. Outgoing New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine only signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in January this year.

marijuana plantWilson was arrested in 2008 when a pilot for the National Guard flew over his residence and noticed marijuana plants growing in the yard. State police was then notified and they found a total of 17 marijuana plants behind Wilson’s home, some of which had grown to six feet.

James Wronko, Wilson’s lawyer, said: “We’re disappointed that he’s in state prison for smoking marijuana to treat his multiple sclerosis. I think anytime someone using marijuana for their own medical use goes to state prison, it’s clearly a harsh sentence.” He said further that they intend to appeal the sentence next week.

Advocates for medical marijuana are supporting Wilson and two state senators asked former Gov. Corzine to pardon Wilson. Under the New Jersey medical marijuana law, patients are not allowed to grow marijuana privately; marijuana of up to 2 ounces a month are to be bought from dispensaries monitored by the state.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Pregnancy & Fertility

Thalidomide Victims Get Apology 50 Years Later

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After 50 years the many victims of thalidomide (people who were exposed to the drug in utero and suffered major deformations as a result) have finally gotten the public apology they have deserthemaldohideved for many years. The announcement which  included the 20-million-pound package was welcomed by many victims, although some were still upset that it had taken so long and others said the wording didn’t seem as if it were a true apology.

466 survivors of the drug (which was marketed as a morning sickness treatment during pregnancy) are eligible for support.

“I know many thalidomiders have waited a long time for this,” Health Minister Mike O’Brien told the House of Commons, using the term for victims of the drug at the end of the 1950s.”The government wishes to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected when expectant mothers took the drug thalidomide between 1958 and 1961.We acknowledge both the physical hardship and the emotional difficulties that have faced both the children affected and their families as a result of this drug and the challenges that many continue to endure, often on a daily basis.”

Thalidomide was banned in 1961 when the effects of the drug (these included limbs, brain damage and other problems) on infants were made public by various media outlets of the era.

Thalidomide campaigner Guy Tweedy described the government apology as “absolutely wonderful”.”I’m highly delighted and so glad that it actually came, 50 years too late, but never mind. It’s an apology not just to thalidomide victims but to the parents and parents who lost their children in the early days.”

Distillers Biochemicals who made the drug paid some 28 million pounds in compensation in the 1970s after a legal battle by the victim’s families. There are roughly 12,000 thalidomide survivors worldwide, according to Thalidomide UK. The first thalidomide victim was born in Germany.

Drug Testing Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

NASA Seeking Answers and Doing Drug Tests After Cocaine Discovery

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After a small amount of cocaine was found in a space shuttle hangar at NASA’s Florida Spaceport the organization began an investigation. The drug was found as residue in an abandoned plastic bag at the Orbiter Processing Facility a restricted zone for shuttle workers only at Discovery’s hanimage.axdgar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A shuttle worker found it outside a bathroom and immediately reported the finding to security after which an on-site test found it to be cocaine. A follow-up test confirmed the finding.

“This is a rare and isolated incident, and I’m disappointed that it happened, but it should not detract from the outstanding work that is being done by a dedicated team on a daily basis,” Bob Cabana, a former astronaut and director of Kennedy Space Center, said in a statement. “We are conducting an investigation and working with center security and law enforcement officials to get to the bottom of it.”

The maintenance hangar is a restricted zone which requires special access badges for any workers to enter. Roughly 200 NASA employees and contractors have access to the area, and all have been asked to complete drug tests since Wednesday. Thus far there haven’t been any indications of workers being inebriated while at work. The consequences of such actions are severe, according to NASA officials.

“NASA, as well as all of our contractors, has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use,” Beutel said. “This is being taken very seriously.”

The cocaine find is being investigated on two fronts. One is through the drug itself and the other is looking for clues as to how it ended up in the shuttle hangar. Security in these areas is taken very seriously because it raises issues of safety working on the spacecraft, as well as to ensure the safety and quality of work on the space vehicles. Officials said that extensive efforts are being made to ensure Discovery remains safe to fly its next spaceflight. Its slated to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in March when it will be doing a mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Endeavour is due to launch on Feb. 7. NASA plans to fly five final shuttle missions this year before retiring its three-orbiter fleet.

Florida Drug Screening