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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Driving on Drugs? Stick Your Tongue Out in Canada.

Sticking your tongue out at the cop who’s pulled you over — never a good idea — is likely to become even more fraught in the near future.

With Canadian legislation to authorize their roadside use in the offing, devices that can detect marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamine in saliva are almost certainly on their way to Canadian highways.  A little larger than a physician’s tongue depressor, a road side drug detection device, called  Securetec Drug Wipe 5 S,  is one of three “oral fluid” detectors currently being evaluated by a national forensics panel for use by police forces.  Police rub these spongy stubs three or four times over a motorist’s tongue to collect saliva.  The probe is then inserted into a small detection device that includes a layer of antibody-impregnated paper. If enough of any drug present in the saliva sample adheres to its corresponding antibodies, the paper registers a positive test.

The Canadian forensics group is currently testing three devices to determine if the readings they give are reliable.

Posted By: STS  First @ 11:51:20 AM


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Friday, October 31, 2014

Fired for Positive Pot / Collect Unemployment in MI

In a breakthrough decision for those who say marijuana is medicine and not a dangerous drug, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday that workers who are state-approved users of medical marijuana should get unemployment compensation if fired solely for testing positive for drugs.

"It's a very favorable decision for the civil rights of employees in Michigan," said Matt Abel, a Detroit lawyer that focuses on marijuana cases.  But Rich Studley, president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the ruling -- and the use of medical marijuana in general -- present "a real dilemma" for employers.  "There's a serious question of workplace safety when people may use medical marijuana before they come to work" and then operate machinery or do other tasks that could endanger others, Studley said.  He said he hoped the ruling would be appealed..

Attorney Matt Abel also said:  Although users "may still can be fired for medical-marijuana use — even off the job, which we think is wrong, at least they can't be barred from unemployment benefits for that reason alone,"   Abel is the executive director of Michigan NORML,

Friday's decision applies only to Michiganders who are state-registered users of the drug. The decision affirmed lower court decisions that the state's medical marijuana law preempted its unemployment law.  The decision said that a provision of Michigan's medical marijuana act, passed by voters in 2008, prohibits penalties for those who use medical marijuana legally.

Contact Bill Laitner:

Posted By: STS  First @ 2:02:29 PM


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Pot Fine. Pipes, Not So Much

ANNAPOLIS, MD — A new law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Maryland takes effect Wednesday.   The bill, Senate Bill 364, will replace the penalty for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine instead of a criminal offense.  Instead of arrest and a potential 90 day jail sentence under the current law, starting on October 1, 2014, offenders will be issued a fine, the amount of which varies from $100 for a first offense to $250 for a second and $500 for any subsequent offense.  The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was passed in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session in March. The new law, however, does not decriminalize the possession of paraphernalia, including pipes, papers, vaporizers or bongs, meaning that a person caught smoking a joint technically could be arrested for the rolling paper but not the marijuana inside.   Lawmakers have said that they will consider eliminating paraphernalia penalties next year.

Posted By: STS  First @ 10:28:03 AM


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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lift License or Rehab?

California's Proposition 46, which includes testing of physicians for impairment randomly and after adverse events, addresses an important problem, but in a dangerously flawed manner, say authors of 2 commentaries published online September 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

On November 4, Californians will vote on the Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative (Proposition 46), which would mandate random drug and alcohol testing of physicians and quadruple the cap on malpractice awards to $1.1 million. If it passes, it would be the first such law in the nation.

Proponents promote it as a patient safety measure, but authors of both commentaries say it will have the opposite effect.

Proposition 46 calls for the immediate suspension of physicians who test positive, but the authors note that it never defines a legitimate process for confirming test results. False-positives are inevitable, and innocent physicians could be tied up in lengthy and costly court battles.

One flaw of the current proposition, they say, is that results of the drug testing could be used in criminal and civil litigation. When programs are designed to punish, rather than rehabilitate, they say, healthcare providers are less likely to seek help or report an impaired colleague, which could jeopardize patient safety.  "Thus, under this new law, physicians might seek to avoid detection as long as possible, might not be reported as early, and might come to attention only after egregious patient harm," Dr. Pham and Dr. Pronovost write.


Posted By: STS  First @ 10:53:59 AM


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

K2, N-bome, Smiles, one step ahead

Employers’ new challenge: drug testing for synthetics

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette  Published: August 31 2014 | 12:01 am

Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement: The trend of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones isn’t going away.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Manufacturers of synthetic drugs such as K-2 stay one step ahead of the law by changing the chemical make up when one substance is banned.  Employers are now faced with the dilemma of paying an added expense to test employees for synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones, which differ from the regular drug tests. However, those tests may not be reliable because when the products are altered to skirt the law, new drug testing panels have to be developed to detect the recently created products. 

 “We have the convenience shops and head shops selling under control, but they are just getting smarter about it,” Stepleton said last week. “They don’t have it out in the open, and the regular customers know to ask for it.” “Outlaw one and there 15 new ones,” he said.

There were two recent convictions of distributors and three more are pending trials in this district’s federal court. In the wake of one death and five overdoses attributed to synthetics, the city of Cedar Rapids just amended an ordinance to fine and criminally charge anyone selling or buying products.  The total number of synthetic drug compounds listed as Schedule I controlled substances in Iowa now stands at 64, plus five classes of synthetic cannabinoids.

 QPS Employment Group, a staffing agency with 12 branches across the Iowa, including Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, places employees in many manufacturing and other companies. Its regional vice president, Jim Roy, has discovered many aren’t aware the standard 10-panel drug tests don’t detect synthetics.   Gary Bucher, owner of ARCpoint Labs in Des Moines, said the standard 10-panel tests range from $50 to $60 per person. To add the two synthetic tests, it would be twice that amount.  He has interest from employees wanting to test for synthetics, but that cost deters them. His labs have done testing for parents who request it and for treatment agencies, though.


Posted By: STS  First @ 2:35:05 PM


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Workplace Positives Up

This is the first time the rate of positive tests has gone up since 2003.

The number of positive drug tests by U.S. employees is on the rise.

Fueled by an increase in employee use of marijuana and amphetamines, the number of failed drug tests has gone up for the first time in more than a decade,  An analysis of 7.6 million failed drug tests has gone up for the first time in more than a decade, according to research from Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic information services firm.  An analysis of 7.6 million urine drug tests revealed a 3.7 percent failure rate in 2013, compared with a rate of 3.5 in 2012, a relative increase of more than 5 percent. 


Posted By: STS  First @ 2:22:18 PM


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

$500 Per Packet Fine for Spice In Alaska

NEW law banning Spice @ 500 per packet

By Shannon Ballard 8:38 PM September 19, 2014WASILLA – 

The effects of synthetic drugs have proven so dangerous that lawmakers decided a statewide ban was needed.  This week, Alaska’s new spice law took effect. It authorizes law enforcement to fine anyone who sells or possesses illicit synthetic drugs.  The new state law was modeled after ordinances Anchorage and Wasilla passed earlier this year.

The idea of the law to keep synthetic drugs off the shelves by targeting misleading packaging rather than specific chemicals used in the drugs.  In Anchorage, the ordinance had an immediate effect, with most stores pulling the dangerous drugs from the shelves.  Wasilla Police Chief Gene Belden says spice was once a major problem in the valley leading to violence and car wrecks.

“Since the ordinance, I am not aware of any of these types of crimes going on. I’m not aware of anyone calling in and saying this smoke shop or that smoke shop is selling these types of products,” said Belden.

Under the new law, the penalty for possession of “spice” is $500 per packet.


Posted By: STS  First @ 2:17:00 PM


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Philly Votes for Decriminalization

The City of Brotherly Love is decriminalizing marijuana possession and public consumption, ending a drug policy that has disproportionately targeted African Americans and Latinos in Philadelphia for decades.

After a long summer of negotiations between Mayor Michael Nutter and supporters of Councilman James Kenney's decriminalization bill, the mayor agreed to sign the legalization measure, which will take effect October 20. Support from Philly cops, African American community organizations, and black media outlets helped forge the decriminalization law that passed 13-3 through the city council — a margin that would have overridden a potential mayoral veto.

"We're the largest city in the US that will decriminalize successfully," said Kenney's policy director Chris Goy. "And in doing so, forged our own path against the state." Marijuana possession is still illegal in Pennsylvania, and lawbreakers are remain subject to arrest, fines, and jail time.

 A separate medical marijuana bill is still under consideration in the state legislature, and 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters support ending the state's ban of medical pot. But, despite overwhelming support among voters, according to VICE News sources in Harrisburg, the state's capital, the bill will likely fail to become law.

Philly's decriminalization bill makes marijuana possession of less than 30 grams equivalent to a $25 jaywalking ticket. Smoking weed in public is a bit more serious: Anyone caught toking will have to fork over $100 or complete nine hours of community service.  Possession of weed previously carried a $200 fine, plus mandatory viewing of a three-hour video on the dangers of drug abuse. The video is widely considered a joke and ineffective, a symptom of the dysfunctional way the city, state, and country deal with the possession of tiny amounts of weed.



Posted By: STS  First @ 1:29:08 PM


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Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL: New Pot Testing Cutoffs Higher

Rolling Stone Magazine. By James Montgomery | September 18, 2014

Earlier this week, the NFL and its Players Association – who, as you are probably aware, have been at odds over a few things recently – were somehow able to hammer out a new drug policy, that includes a liberalized marijuana policy.

The new plan raises the acceptable level of THC found in a player's urine from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 35, a change that reflects the recent trend towards marijuana legalization.

(Federal DOT testing standards for reported positives are 50 ng/ml on the initial screen, and 15 ng/ml for the confirmation test.)

 Men's Journal has a by-the-numbers breakdown of the NFL's relationship with drug use, and its new pot policy. Here are some of the statistics.

3,000: The estimated number of NFL retirees who take narcotics, based on a study from Washington University School of Medicine, commissioned by ESPN.  1,500: The estimated number of those retirees dependent on pain pills, based on the same study.

104: Number of players who have been suspended for drug-related offenses since 2011 according to commissioner Roger Goodell at a news conference.

20: Number of suspensions in 2014 for other substances including performance enhancing drugs, alcohol, and cocaine.

Read the complete article at 

Posted By: STS  First @ 10:46:09 AM


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Driving Stoned - Jury Still Out

As the number of states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana continues to grow questions are being raised regarding whether or not this legalization will equate to more drivers getting behind the wheel stoned. It also begs the question of positive Reasonable Suspicion drug testing.

Research indicates that marijuana does impair certain areas of perception and cognition. In a study where people were given tasks to do while high it was found that, while performing these tasks was still within their abilities, more areas of the brain needed to be engaged in order to do so. Specific areas hindered by marijuana included slowed reaction times to sudden events, increased difficulty multitasking and decreased peripheral vision. All of these affected areas could create problems while driving. However, there is research that shows that people who are high are aware of their impairment and take steps to accommodate that fact.

Studies looking into the chances of increased risk of accidents and fatalities resulting from marijuana impaired driving have yielded conflicting results.

States that have some form of legalized marijuana have also produced mixed results in their research aimed at determining the increased prevalence and risks of stoned drivers. Washington found a 25 percent hike in drivers testing positive for pot but could find no increase in accidents. States like California, Washington and Hawaii have reported increased accident rates but these studies have not successfully been replicated, insinuating an error in the research process.

One of the major barriers to determining the rate of people driving high and the rate of crashes caused by being high are the testing methods. Roadside saliva tests exist, and are often used, but they present a problem because the components being tested for can remain in saliva for several hours after the marijuana has been smoked. This issue with tests raises concerns from medical marijuana advocates that patients could be criminalized for medicating, even without having been high when behind the wheel.


Posted By: STS  First @ 7:57:32 AM


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