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Keeping Kids Off Drugs: Pragmatism vs. Zero Tolerance
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The emotionally charged issue of keeping teenagers off drugs has prompted a variety of programs and policies. The problem is that we don’t know whether they work. For more than 20 years we have carried on a huge experiment on our teenagers. Beginning in the early 1980s with Nancy Reagan’s simplistic “just say no” mantra, we have tried persuasion, encouragement and scare tactics. We started by subjecting our kids to school-based prevention programs (such as DARE), and provocative (if ridiculous) commercials (such as the egg in the frying pan). Obviously, our teenagers did not stop using drugs. In fact, year after year, government studies have indicated that by the time they graduate from high school, half of American teenagers will… Read More
Drug Testing In Schools: Can It Cause Harm?
Posted by A. Shapiro
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Many schools and districts are performing drug tests or are considering drug screens for students entering competitive sports, other physical extracurricular activities such as school band and cheerleading, and non-active, extracurricular activities such as chess club or the debate team. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling permits this to occur. Local school districts need not adopt this practice, however, and states are still permitted to disallow this practice to protect individual rights within the state’s constitution. Where student drug testing is currently practiced, students testing positive are typically excluded from their desired extracurricular activity until they are cleared with another screen. Other consequences of a drug screen may include punitive measures, counseling, therapy, and rehabilitation – with variation from one… Read More
Police Slam Drug Test, Forced Exams On Officers “Ludicrous”
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Forcing high-risk police officers to urinate into a cup is a ludicrous violation of human rights, says the head of Calgary’s cop association. Sgt. Al Koenig says a recommendation that Toronto police officers be forced to undergo drug testing before being promoted or assigned to high-risk units like the drug squad is ridiculous and would never fly in Calgary. “Police officers have the same rights as every other citizen in Canada,” he said. “To say they have to undergo mandatory drug testing when they show up at work just flies in the face of logic.” The mandatory drug test is one of 32 recommendations proposed last week by retired Ontario Supreme Court Judge, George Ferguson, following a two-year investigation into… Read More
Shy Bladder During Drug Test Gets Some Workers Fired
Posted by A. Shapiro
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Tom Smith worried he was in for trouble on a Wednesday morning last November, when a supervisor pulled the assembly line worker aside and told him to the report to the factory nurse’s station. There, with a plastic urine specimen cup in hand, 40 ounces of water sloshing around inside him and the nurse waiting expectantly, Smith says he spent three hours straining to do what most people barely think about. But when the time allotted for the random drug test was finished, the cup was still empty. And Smith was out of a job. The story sounds like the makings of a bad joke. But Smith and workers like him say they are tired of being the punchline. Their… Read More
Can Marijuana Help You Drive?
Posted by A. Shapiro
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While no responsible person would ever advocate the use of drugs for drivers, tests using a recently developed video game called Burnout have thrown up some surprise statistics. The testers found that a moderate amount of cannabis actually improved driving performance among those they studied. Results from another recent study apparently also show that people drive both faster and safer while under the influence of the drug. A group of 20 drivers aged 21-40 were recruited for the Burnout study, all of whom had not previously owned a video games machine or described themselves of players of video games. Ten of them smoked approximately 0.15 milligrams of cannabis, equivalent to about half a “joint”. The other half declared that they… Read More
“Go” Pills For F-16 Pilots Gets Close Look
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The Air Force calls them “go” pills, and that is what they do: keep pilots going in the air long after their tired minds and bodies would have preferred to fall asleep. The stimulants have been used by airmen since World War II, and were doled out by the thousands in the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan. But the practice is coming under new scrutiny in the investigation of two F-16 pilots who were taking Air Force-provided amphetamines when they mistook a midnight training exercise for hostile fire and bombed a gathering of Canadian soldiers. Four Canadians were killed in the April incident, and eight others were wounded. The Air Force has taken the unprecedented step of pursuing criminal charges… Read More
What An Amazing Scientific Study
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The people forcing Oregon teenagers to participate in drug research published their early data this week, and the results were hardly shocking: A school that randomly demands urine samples from students appears to have a lower rate of drug use than a school that doesn’t. Head researcher Dr. Linn Goldberg is already using the results as proof that drug testing likely “works.” We question that logic, as well as the judgment of school leaders who require students to be laboratory rats in order to participate in school activities. The research should be permanently suspended. Oregon Health & Science University received a three-year, $3.6 million federal grant in 2000 to study whether random urine testing of student athletes reduces drug use… Read More
Controversial Drug Testing Study Yields Mixed Results
Posted by A. Shapiro
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A drug testing research project that inspired a class action lawsuit has yielded mixed results. The controversial study was conducted at two public high schools in Oregon during the 1999-2000 school year by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, and was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The study was suspended by the federal Office for Human Research Protection last October over concerns regarding how the questionnaires were handled in classrooms, the randomization of schools and researchers’ involvement in the drug-testing procedure. In the pilot study, Wahtonka High School in Dalles, Oregon, required that student athletes submit to mandatory, random drug testing to participate in sports. A similar-sized high school in Warrenton,… Read More
Ohio Supreme Court Backs Workers In Workers’ Comp Drug Test Ruling
Posted by A. Shapiro
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On a 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court has struck down a state law that said people seeking workers’ compensation benefits must prove that drugs or alcohol found in their systems did not cause their injury. Prior to the law, enacted in 2000, employers had to prove that drugs or alcohol caused the injuries if they wanted to contest worker’s comp claims. The 2000 law also mandated that workers who refused to take drug tests would be considered to have tested positive. But a narrow majority of the state Supreme Court found that the law violated protections against “unreasonable seizures” in both the Ohio and the US constitutions. “The right at stake, to be free from unreasonable searches, is so… Read More
British MP Calls For Drug Testing 10-Year-Olds
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The British Labor government’s effort to remake the criminal justice system in its pending Criminal Justice Bill is sparking demands for an ever tougher approach to juvenile crime. On December 17, Tory Member of Parliament Graham Allen one-upped everybody by calling for the drug testing of children as young as 10 by police. The Labor bill calls for lowering the age of testing from 18 to 14. Only children suspected for other crimes would be arrested. But 14 isn’t nearly young enough, said Allen, who serves on the parliamentary committee that began examining the bill this week. “The focus has been on the civil liberty aspects of the bill—my concern is the civic freedom of intimidated witnesses, innocent victims, and… Read More
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