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What’s Wrong With the Drug War?
Posted by A. Shapiro
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Everyone has a stake in ending the war on drugs. Whether you’re a parent concerned about protecting children from drug-related harm, a social justice advocate worried about racially disproportionate incarceration rates, an environmentalist seeking to protect the Amazon rainforest or a fiscally conservative taxpayer you have a stake in ending the drug war. U.S. federal, state and local governments have spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make America “drug-free.” Yet heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs are cheaper, purer and easier to get than ever before. Nearly half a million people are behind bars on drug charges - more than all of western Europe (with a bigger population) incarcerates for all offenses. The war on drugs has… Read More
Drug Testing
Posted by A. Shapiro
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In 1986, the Reagan administration began to heavily promote drug testing in the workplace as part of the escalating War on Drugs. Since then, drug testing has proliferated from safety-sensitive jobs to non-safety sensitive jobs to pre-employment job testing to suspicionless drug testing of public high school students to mandatory drug testing of applicants for public benefits. Drug testing is also a near universal feature of the criminal justice system in the United States, with most probationers and parolees required to undergo drug testing regardless of the nature of their underlying offense or history of drug use. This proliferation has occurred despite the paucity of evidence that widespread suspicionless drug testing results in safer workplaces and schools, reduces substance abuse… Read More
ION Detectors: Drug Tests or Barriers to Visitation?
Posted by A. Shapiro
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In April, my 85 year old mother-part blind, two hearing aids, two heart attacks and 17 years of drug war imprisonment of her only son G. Patrick Callahan behind her- tested positive with an ION Detector for illegal drugs at a federal prison in Seagonville, TX. My sisters were processed, but my mother was too deaf to understand that she was being told to leave the federal premises entirely. She’s also too old to put up with that crap, and she dissolved emotionally. Hunched over, with her head buried in her hands, she sobbed and wandered alone into the parking lot. She was sure that she would never see my brother again, and due to bad health and poor finances,… Read More
Man Receives Life Sentence for Positive Marijuana Test
Posted by A. Shapiro
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Tyrone Brown, 33, is now serving a life sentence for testing positive for marijuana while on probation for a $2 holdup he committed when he was 17. Brown’s harsh sentence received national attention after his story appeared in the Dallas Morning News and on the TV show 20/20. As a result, Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill recently appealed to Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) to free Brown. Hill said Keith Dean, the judge who sentenced Brown and in November failed in his reelection bid for the first time in nearly 20 years, contacted him to seek Brown’s release but was reluctant to initiate the process personally. It is unclear when Gov. Perry may make a decision. Source: Marijuana Policy… Read More
Patient Evades Jail, Granted Right To Use Marijuana While On Probation
Posted by A. Shapiro
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As a result of testing positive in May 2006 while on probation, California medical marijuana patient Rachel Jones* was charged with violating her probation conditions. Ignoring Rachel’s doctor’s recommendation, which established her status as a qualified patient, her probation officer recommended jail time. Turning to her attorney, a Los Angeles public defender, Rachel sought to fight the threat of jail time. Unfortunately, her public defender did not believe that Rachel had a viable medical condition, and when she went to court, the judge sentenced Rachel to a year in jail. With nowhere left to turn, Rachel contacted ASA seeking our help. ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford contacted the Los Angeles public defender office to report the substandard legal representation, and… Read More
Council Revisits Drug Testing
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The Burbank City Council will decide tonight whether to pursue adoption of a drug-testing policy for elected officials—a month after former Councilwoman Stacey Jo Murphy pleaded guilty to cocaine possession. The council will vote on whether to direct the city staff to study the legal and ethical implications of either a voluntary or mandatory testing policy, and if so, to come back with a proposed policy at a subsequent meeting. Mayor Jef Vander Borght said he supported some type of measure that would make officials more accountable. “It will give the public the comfort that the members of the council are drug tested,” he said. The vote comes only a few weeks after Murphy, 47, pleaded guilty to federal charges… Read More
When Federal & State Laws Collide In The Workplace
Posted by A. Shapiro
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In an ideal world government would have no say in the hiring practices of private companies, so such an issue would never arise. But we live in the world we live in, so perhaps it is helpful that the California Supreme Court has taken the case of Gary Ross, a former computer systems administrator who was fired for testing positive for marijuana, even though he was using it to alleviate chronic back pain with the approval of a physician, which is legal under the Compassionate Use Act approved by voters in 1996 and has never been challenged or invalidated in court. The situation is confusing, and companies could use a little guidance, even if the Supreme Court decides the proper… Read More
Medical Marijuana User Banned From Regatta
Posted by A. Shapiro
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Irvin Rosenfeld, the South Florida stockbroker who gained national attention for his fight to freely use marijuana as medicine, has run into resistance from one of the nation’s top sailing events for the disabled and expects to be barred from next year’s event. The reason: an independent group that monitors use of drugs by athletes won’t exempt the pot Rosenfeld uses to treat tumors that would otherwise leave him bedridden and in pain. Rosenfeld, who has sailed in three races of the North American Challenge Cup in 11 years, has asked the race’s organizers and the U.S. Sailing Association to overrule the United States Anti-Doping Agency and let him sail in the 2006 regatta. He said an event that celebrates… Read More
The Millworker’s Argument
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The Oregon Supreme Court has agreed to review Washburn v. Columbia Forest Products, Inc., a case that will clarify how much protection the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) affords workers. Millworker Robert Washburn of Klamath Falls got a card through the state program in 1999 after a doctor approved his marijuana use for pain-related insomnia. Washburn never showed signs of impairment on the job, but was fired in 2001 after his urine tested positive for marijuana metabolites. Washburn sued for reinstatement and back pay. A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled against him, citing a clause in OMMA releasing employers from any obligation to accommodate “use of medical marijuana in any workplace.” Washburn appealed, arguing that he didn’t use marijuana… Read More
Suit Spurs Debate On Hair Test For Drugs
Posted by A. Shapiro
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The seven police officers swore they didn’t use cocaine, yet their hair tested positive for the drug. They are now suing the Boston police department, claiming the mandatory drug test that got them fired is unreliable and racially biased. Their civil rights lawsuit is one of many legal challenges to the use of hair to test for drug use by police officers and private sector workers. Employers like the test because it can detect drugs up to three months after use; urine tests go back one to three days and can be altered by a range of products. But critics say hair testing is unfair because drug compounds show up more readily in dark hair than light hair, and it… Read More
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