Testing It Up » May 2012

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Drug Testing

Louisiana Welfare Drug Testing Bill Stalls

Published by:

The welfare drug testing bill that would require certain welfare recipients to submit to random drug testing hit a snag on Tuesday, after members left a committee hearing on the bill before a vote could be taken.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sherman Mack (R-Livingston), would require 20 percent of the adult recipients of aid from the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program to submit to random testing. Those who test positive will be required to seek treatment, in order to continue receiving cash assistance.

Mack shared that the goal of the bill is to encourage people who may have issues with substance abuse to seek treatment. He said: “This bill is not about punishing people. It’s really about deterrence and helping people.”

The first drug test, which costs $7.75, will be paid for by the state. A person who tests positive, however, will shoulder the costs of additional tests, if they want to continue receiving cash assistance. Those who test positive will need to participate in an education and rehab program within 90 days of a positive test result. They can continue to receive cash assistance after passing their next drug test.

There are senators, however, who have concerns about the bill. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), for instance, expressed concern about the fact that children may suffer if their parents are unable to receive cash assistance: “They could be cut off from sustenance.”

Sen. Gary Smith (D-Norco), on the other hand, shared that it is unlikely that recipients will be able to pass a second drug test within 3 months: “They’re addicts. And addicts don’t get healed, or don’t recover with their first round of treatment.”

The committee will resume Wednesday.

Early Disease Detection

Maryland High School Student Develops Pancreatic Cancer Test

Published by:

A 15-year-old high school student from Maryland has developed a test to detect pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Jack Andraka, a freshman at North County High School, was able to discover a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer before the disease spreads. The young scientist professed a love and passion for science, and these won him the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for having developed a test that detects early stage pancreatic cancer.

Andraka shared: “I’m really passionate about science. It’s just my thing… I like working on medical research.”

Dr. Anirban Maitra, professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, shared that Jack’s creation “detects an abnormal protein that you find in the blood when you have a pancreatic cancer… He conceived this idea and I think the fact that he is 15 makes this whole story more remarkable.”

The young scientist shared: “I got interested in early detection because that’s the best chance of treating the cancer… The only practical way of doing this is through routine blood tests so that’s what I developed here.” The test that he developed is 90 percent accurate, and costs less compared to other tests.

Andraka was awarded at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, and won more than $100,000 in prize money that he intends to use for college. Jane, Jack’s mom, said: “They gave him an opportunity to make his dreams come true.”

Drug Testing

Illinois High School Students May Soon Face Drug Testing

Published by:

Students at Murphysboro Community School District 186 may undergo drug testing in the coming school year.

Murphysboro students involved in extra-curricular activities may be subjected to random drug testing. Superintendent Chris Grode shared that he expected the proposal to be in the July agenda of the school board.

School administrators, Grode shared further, will be looking at drug testing policies that are already currently in place in schools that implement them, and use their observations in coming up with a drug policy for the school. The school board will then discuss the recommendation presented to them by administrators.

The idea for implementing a drug testing policy, Grode said, came from some parents who have been calling for such a policy for several years now. He shared: “It comes up a lot… Really what it is, is you get community members who want their kids to be able to say, ‘I can’t do that because I might be tested.”

Among the schools that already implement a drug testing policy is Carterville High School, and Principal Keith Liddell shared that he has been satisfied with the results: “It works great for us… We’ve had random drug testing for students involved in extra curricular activities for about 10 years now. I’ve been at the high school for four years and we’ve had one hot test.” “Hot test” is the term used for a failed drug test.

Liddell shared further: “We’re all in this together and we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing… It wasn’t perfect here when we first started it, so if we can we want to help people avoid any issues we ran in to.”

Drug Testing

Nebraska Catholic High School to Conduct Random Drug Testing

Published by:

A private, Roman Catholic high school in Columbus, Nebraska, will implement a new drug testing policy in the coming school year.

Students of Scotus Central Catholic High School will be subjected to random drug testing next school year, after the school’s board of education unanimously agreed to the policy on Thursday. The policy indicates that Scotus Central Catholic students in the school, or at school activities, may be subjected to random or “with cause” testing.

While the final procedure is still being implemented, it was indicated that the testing will be done by the school, and that even if the school has grades 7 through 12, only high school students will undergo testing.

Wayne Morfeld, president of the school, shared that the drug testing policy is being implemented out of the school’s concern for the students. While drug use is not exactly a major problem in the school, they realize that there are students who may be using drugs, and through the policy, the school is proactively addressing this concern.

Morfeld shared: “Our goal is to give students a very good reason to say no to drugs… This is not a game of gotcha. It is a game of prevention.”

When the policy is implemented, students will be required to submit to random or for cause drug testing, either at school or school activities. A student who tests positive may go through an appeal or verification process, which consists of a lab test and follow-up analysis. Another positive test after an appeal will result in disciplinary action, which may mean a 20-day out-of-school suspension, or a five-day in-school suspension provided that the student will agree to an evaluation by a professional substance abuse counselor.

Drug Testing

New Oklahoma Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Published by:

The new workplace drug testing laws in Oklahoma provides employers with wider scope for drug testing.

Under the new law, which was implemented November 1 and amended May 8, employers are allowed to: test workers with negative performance patterns, excessive absenteeism or tardiness; test workers following a leave of absence or job reassignment; test whole groups or shifts of employees; test workers who, while at work, damage property of any value; and test independent contractors when there’s a contractual agreement to allow it.

In addition, drug policies put in place by employers may now indicate that workers will be tested for “drugs and alcohol,” and no longer need to list specific drugs. It is also not mandatory for employers to offer assistance programs to conduct drug testing, and they do not need to secure written consent from workers to release drug test results.

John Carpenter, spokesman for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, shared: “The new laws clear up issues as far as unemployment insurance claims, and allow us to understand drug tests in a more direct manner and get those records at all.

Still, employees may enjoy certain protections under the laws, such as keeping drug test results confidential, and being entitled to request for confirmation tests within 24 hours of receiving a positive result on a drug test, according to McAfee &Taft labor and employment attorney Mike Lauderdale.

Susan Lobsinger, president of USA Mobile Drug Testing, shared: “Drug use is an absolute epidemic in Oklahoma, and drug testing can be huge in stopping it.”

Drug Testing

Drug Testing Routine for Teen Olympic Swimmer

Published by:

Seventeen-year-old All-American swimmer Missy Franklin is one month away from competing at the Olympics, and part of the preparations is undergoing drug testing – something that has been described as “routine” for her.

One such testing happened early on a Monday morning, before 6. An anti-doping agent with FINA, the international governing body of swimming and diving, knocked on the Franklin’s door at 5:45 in the morning to collect blood and urine samples from the teen swimmer.

It has been a rather challenging time for Franklin, as she has not been feeling well lately. Her mom, D.A., who is a doctor, shared: “Poor girl is sneezing and coughing, and we can’t give her anything.”

The reason why Franklin was being deprived of medication is that many common medicines are on the off-limits list of the National Anti-Doping Organization of the United States (USADA). The organization conducts drug testing on top athletes, in order to make sure that no one is cheating, through the use of performance-enhancing substances.

In order to ensure that anti-doping agents are able to administer tests anytime, anywhere – whether at home, in school, a friend’s house, or at the mall – Missy’s schedule is keyed into the USADA website, up to the hour. Every place she goes, at what time she will be there, and for how long, is documented every day of the year. D.A. Franklin shared: “She is a teenager with a busy and ever-changing school and practice schedule, and she travels a lot. It is tough.”

Alcohol Testing

Thirteen Navy Commands Start Breathalyzer Beta Test

Published by:

Thirteen commands of the United States Navy kicked off the Breathalyzer beta test on Thursday. The program was announced by Navy leadership in February, with a Navy-wide implementation scheduled for December this year.

Fleet Master Chief (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens, the top enlisted sailor at the U.S. Fleet Forces Command (FFC), shared: “Commands will start collecting data tomorrow, May 24, and we expect to wrap up the beta test on Sept. 30… Once the tests are complete, we will submit the data and the proposed Navy-wide policy up the chain to leadership, who will decide the next step.”

The participating commands include: USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77); USS Kearsarge (LHD 3); USS Montpelier (SSN 765); USNS Apache (T-ATF-172); Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 2; Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4; the staff of Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic; Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit (EODTEU) 2; Navy Information Operations Command, Norfolk; Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic; Navy Operational Support Center, Norfolk; and the USFF staff.

According to Stevens, participating commands are required to submit their testing data to FFC once a week. The data will then be compiled throughout the test by the FFC. As the lead command, it will also create a final report, and recommend a Navy-wide policy to Washington. Stevens said further: “This isn’t about eliminating responsible alcohol use… This is an education and prevention tool only.”

Navy leaders hope that testing will lead to less alcohol-related incidents in the ranks, such as drunk driving.

Drug Testing

Beverly Hills High School to Adopt Drug Testing Policy

Published by:

Athletes at Beverly Hills High School will start undergoing mandatory random drug tests, after the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education passed a new drug testing policy on Tuesday.

The Board of Education voted 4 to 1 in favor of adopting a policy that mandates random drug testing for high school athletes. The policy calls for mandatory drug testing starting next fall.

The parents of athletes who test positive for alcohol and illegal drugs will be notified via certified mail, but the result will not be shared with the school district. It also triggers a mandatory second test within 60 days.

If a student tests positive for a second time, or refuses to take a second test, the school district will receive a notification. The student-athlete will then be suspended from his or her sport for one game, and may be retested.

Earlier this week, school board President Brian Goldberg shared: “While I would support random testing for all students, the U.S. Supreme Court and the California Courts of Appeal allow for testing only for students participating on sports teams.”

Board Vice President Jake Manaster, who proposed that only parents will be notified after the first positive result, said: “We are empowering the parent to act, and if they act I am hopeful the student will get the help that we are all desiring.”

The tests, which will be paid for by the district, will cost about $55 per athlete, and will test for illegal drugs and alcohol – but not performance-enhancing substances.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Supreme Court Judge Backs Marijuana Legalization

Published by:

A Supreme Court Justice is joining advocates in pushing for the passage of a medical marijuana law in New York – and talked about how he has been turning to marijuana for relief from suffering brought about by pancreatic cancer.

Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach admitted to smoking pot illegally, in order to alleviate the side effects of treatment for pancreatic cancer. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Judge Reichbach wrote: “Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep… It is barbaric to deny [cancer patients] access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering.”

The 65-year old judge was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three and a half years ago, and was given only a few months to live by doctors. His life expectancy has been prolonged by a regimen of treatments, although these came at a steep price: “My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery.”

Reichbach, who routinely hears criminal cases involving illegal possession of drugs, shared that he smokes pot before dinner, and before going to bed; friends provide him with the marijuana, he said.

Judge Reichbach’s confession, however, may jeopardize his standing as a judge, and his confession has been described by a court official as “extremely unusual.” An inquiry may be conducted by the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct, and Reichbach may be cautioned, admonished, censured, or removed.

Drug Testing

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Passed by Oklahoma House

Published by:

The Oklahoma House passed House Bill 2388, on a vote of 86-6, sending the bill on to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin.

HB 2388 will call for drug testing of applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and withhold payments to those who will test positive for illegal drug use. The bill passed by the House, however, has already undergone changes in the Senate. While the original version of the bill called for testing for everyone applying for aid, the Senate modified it such that not everyone will be subjected to testing.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) currently continues to provide assistance to recipients who test positive for illegal drug while undergoing treatment, according to Sen. David Holt, Senate author of the bill. HB 2388 will halt payments while still providing treatment.

Sen. Holt shared: “We do have drug testing in the bill, but only where there is suspicion when the person is on illegal drugs… It sends a message that this is a temporary program paid for by people’s neighbors so that they can get back on their feet. It’s just a common-sense idea that if you are using illegal drugs, this probably isn’t the best time to be using TANF. It’s probably a waste of our money and your time and you need to come back when you’re clean.”

The bill requires that adults who apply for TANF be screened for drug use by the DHS, which will cover the cost of screening. Child-only cases, as well as underage parents, will be exempted from testing, and parents who test positive can name an alternative person to receive benefits, ensuring that children of erring parents may still continue to receive benefits.

Applicants undergoing treatment may reapply for benefits six months after their date of denial.