Archive for January, 2012
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that too many New Yorkers are driving under the influence of prescription drugs, with an increase of 35% in drugged driving arrests in New York state since 2001. In 2009, 10.5 million Americans admitted they had taken the wheel while on drugs.
While these numbers are still low compared to drunk driving arrests, the dangers of drugged driving are just as real. Without the proper tools, though, what the cops can do to catch drugged drivers is very limited.
“If people next year knew that they’d be tested for drugged driving just like they are tested for drunk driving, it might deter them from doing it to begin with and save lives,” Schumer said.
This is why he is pushing for legislation that would provide $140 million research and training funding to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in order to develop tests that cops can use to detect drugged drivers as well as to train cops to use any new technology.
Current tests being used by cops can detect alcohol intoxication. There is presently no device or test used by cops that can detect drugged drivers.
“Our cops need state-of-the-art equipment and better training to identify and apprehend those who are putting innocent victims at risk,” he added.
Olive High School is ready to begin their volunteer drug testing program for students, with its “Screen and Clean” project. The project aims to help both parents and their kids by providing drug testing kits that can be used at home.
The funding of the program comes from the FEMA grant given to the community which was hit by floods to aid in their economic development. Yet when a survey was done in Olive Hill which asks citizens as to how to spend the money, many voiced out their concerns on the pain pill epidemic which has affected the youth in the area.
Some comments received say “we can’t recover or grow here without attacking the pain pill epidemic — and let’s start while they’re young.”
In fact, in West Carter High School, just about everyone knows somebody who is into drug addiction. This is why the Champions Against Drugs student organization is doing their share in fighting the epidemic by presenting anti-drugs skits in schools.
The program will provide drug testing kitsto parents who ask for them, and conduct school drug testing on students with both the parents’ and students’ consent. Students and parents are given the option to join the program or not.
“If there’s a party and kids are tempted to do drugs, and the parents might test them when they get home, they’ll think twice,” one student says.
Testing positive at home will have the student tested in a lab again. If it’s still positive, treatment and counseling will be offered to help in their problems. Legal and criminal liabilities are set aside to make way for more effective counseling.
Representative Jud McMillin (R-Brookeville), who sponsored the welfare drug testing policy in Indiana, has decided to withdraw the bill.
According to McMillin, his democratic colleagues in the Indiana General Assembly revised the original bill on welfare recipients’ drug testing to include provisions which extend the said drug testing to lawmakers.
McMillin added that unlike other bills of the same subject, his own creation has been carefully put together to pass even the complications brought about by Constitutional provisions.
Last year, Republican lawmakers have tried to have drug testing policies for those who receive assistance from the government in over 30 states. Some bills even include those who claim for unemployment insurance and food stamps as candidates for drug testing.
However, some of McMillin’s colleagues said that his withdrawal is not a good move. “After it passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill,” Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D- South Bend) said. “If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy. … If we’re going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money.”
Dvorak added that testing of lawmakers is not unconstitutional, as how MCMillin perceives it, since the Georgia rule which McMillin cited, is against drug testing only to candidates and not those who are already elected and holding office.
“I would think legislators that are here who are responsible for the people who voted them in, they should be more than happy to consent,” Dvorak said. “Give me the cup right now and I will be happy to take the test.”
The Bay Area Substance Education Services (BASES) Inc. in Charlevoix warned residents that local prescription drug abuse and marijuana use are on the rise, according to BASES executive director D. Scott Kelly.
Findings from Kelly’s program called “Drug Use Trends in Charlevoix County” have shown that more high school students are engaging in marijuana use than cigarettes smoking. Partly due to medical marijuana laws, kids’ perception on the dangers of marijuana has decreased. In 2008, Michigan approved its medical marijuana program and is now one of the 16 states which have adopted such policy.
Another contributing factor to the increase in prescription drug abuse and marijuana use is the availability of such substances online. Prescribed medications and synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 and Spice are readily available for purchase online.
“We had a kid come in, saying he could buy some ‘stuff’ online for $50, and then ‘flip’ it for $700,” Kelly recalled. “Synthetics create all kinds of legal, political and health issues.”
The program, which was initiated by the BASES executive director, aimed to help parents and concerned citizens understand the trends that kids get into as far as prescription drugs and marijuana abuse are concerned. They were also taught about the dangers of addiction that could lead to psychological problems and the treatments that can help those who become victims of abuse.
Kelly, who is one of the co-founders of BASES, also suffered from alcohol addiction during his college years. He has remained sober since 1984 after enlisting in an alcoholism treatment program. Today, he is one of the resource persons of their program and is currently working on his master’s degree in counseling. He also works as a relapse prevention specialist and as an advanced addiction counselor for their organization.
A bill will require Florida state employees to undergo random drug testing is currently advancing through the Legislature. The drug testing bill is something that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has tried to impose since his inauguration.
Based on information from Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), sponsor of Senate bill SB 1358, while state employees are just as at risk for drug abuse as the rest of the population, having them undergo testing will help those employees who need assistance overcome their personal struggle with drug abuse. Hays said: “It’s about protecting the state employees and the public.”
Sen. Jim Norman (R-Tampa), on the other hand, shared that everyone – including top administrators – should be open to undergoing random drug testing. He recalled his own experience, sharing: “When I became a county commissioner they had it in place in our county and when commissioners were elected our first action was to go down and be tested and I had no problem with that.”
In addition, Rep. Jimmie Smith (R-Inverness), sponsor of HB 1205, said that the bill is an effort towards changing society’s acceptance of drug use. He said: “The first drug-free workplace should be the one that taxpayers pay for.”
The ACLU of Florida, however, pointed out that government-mandated drug tests without suspicion or special safety considerations have been found to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment by the courts. Derek Newton, ACLU of Florida communications director, said: “Just three months ago, in an ACLU lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the state to stop enforcing last year’s law requiring Floridians applying for temporary assistance to submit to the humiliating government tests… And when the ACLU of Florida challenged Governor Scott’s executive order mandating random drug tests for state employees in court, he retreated, ordering most agencies to stop the unconstitutional program.”
The Springfield Police Department in Missouri is providing parents with a way to determine whether their child is using illegal drugs or not.
Springfield police is offering vouchers for home drug testing kits, which have the ability to detect the presence of 10 illegal drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine, in urine.
The organization TestMyTeen.com donated $5,000 worth of free testing kits, as part of its partnership with the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
Cpl. Matt Brown, spokesman for the police department, shared: “Most parents truly believe that their kids would never do anything like that, but we in law enforcement see the other side… We interact everyday with teens who are taking drugs and their parents don’t know.”
Parents can use the drug testing kits to find out whether their teens are indeed using drugs, after observing that they seem to be exhibiting signs of drug abuse. In addition, the knowledge that parents will subject them to drug testing may discourage teens from giving in to peers who may be urging them to experiment with illegal substances.
The concept of using the threat of parental drug testing as a deterrent for teens against experimenting with drugs was supported by three teens who were interviewed by News-Leader. All the teens have been subjected to random drug testing prior to being allowed to participate in special academic and career programs.
The teens – Justin Whitley, Victoria Simpson, and Tabitha Crews – agreed, however, that parents should only turn to drug testing if they suspect that their teen is using drugs and all other steps to prevent the teen from doing so have failed.