#193 Even Feds Can See Flaws Of Drug Tests

Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2000
Subject: # 193 Even Feds Can See Flaws Of Drug Tests

Even Feds Can See Flaws Of Drug Tests


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #193 December 17, 2000

The inherent unfairness of urine testing for illegal drugs is so
obvious that the federal government has finally recognized it. As
reported in the Wall Street Journal this week, many airline employees
were fired for failing drug tests even though test results were
completely incorrect.

In the wake of that news, federal officials are altering some
procedures in order to protect the rights of federal employees
required to take urine tests. It’s good to see some type of reform,
but this does nothing for people in the private sector and it does not
address all the problems of drug testing. Please write a letter to the
Journal or another paper where this story has appeared to say that
random drug testing is worse than unfair, it’s unnecessary and its one
more attack on personal privacy in the name of the drug war.


If not YOU who? If not NOW when?

NOTE: The Wall Street Journal will be a special focus for the MAP
Focus Alert efforts throughout 2001. Please help us to inform this
important publication about the failure of the drug war with your
letters as often as possible.


Phone, Fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then
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and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Contact: letter.editor@wsj.com


The New York Times also covered this story. Please send your letter
there as well.

US NY: Workers Get Greater Drug Test Protection
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00.n1881.a03.html
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Contact: letters@nytimes.com



US: US Issues New Rules On Drug-Test Accuracy
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1883/a09.html
Newshawk: Jo-D and Tom-E
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2000
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Contact: letter.editor@wsj.com
Address: 200 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
Fax: (212) 416-2658
Website: http://www.wsj.com/
Author: Stephen Power, Staff Reporter Of The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Department unveiled rules intended to
encourage more accurate drug testing of airline workers and other
transportation employees and to ensure that workers have an
opportunity to challenge results.

But the rules — which cover 8.5 million transportation workers
nationwide, from truckers to pipeline operators — don’t go as far as
some union officials would like in defining the procedures companies
must follow in administering drug tests. The rules are also likely to
draw fire from private drug-testing labs, whose trade group has
slammed such proposals in the past as an attempted “public
blacklisting” of the industry.

In October, the Department of Health and Human Services said it was
launching inspections of all 65 federally certified drug-testing labs
that test transportation workers after a case involving a Delta Air
Lines pilot raised questions about how samples were validated at a lab
in Kansas. The airline initially fired the pilot and four flight
attendants after LabOne Inc. reported their urine samples had been
“substituted.” After the lab’s findings were questioned by
pilots-union leaders, the airline offered to reinstate the employees
because of doubts about the results.

Transportation Department officials said the rules weren’t related to
the irregularities cited at LabOne or the Department of Health and
Human Services inquiry. They said the rules are an attempt to tighten
standards in areas of the drug-testing industry that have been loosely
regulated until now.

One department official noted that many employers started out running
their own drug-testing programs in house. “Now, many outsource [drug
testing] to third-party providers, and the whole nature of the way the
programs are administered has changed,” the official said. “There
wasn’t a whole lot written about what these persons should be doing.”

Among other things, the new rules would give transportation workers
greater opportunity to challenge “validity tests,” in which companies
test workers’ urine samples for evidence of substitution or
adulterants, substances that conceal drug use. Currently, if workers
fail a validity test, they can’t demand a second test of the sample by
an independent party; the new rules would allow them to do so.

The rules would also direct companies not to contract with drug labs
that have violated federal drug-testing guidelines. That provision has
come under attack by the Substance Abuse Program Administrators
Association, which represents drug labs and substance-abuse programs.
The organization, which didn’t return calls seeking comment Thursday,
has questioned whether the Transportation Department has the authority
to impose such penalties.

Most of the new rules will take effect in August, although a few, such
as the requirements on validity tests and penalties for companies that
violate drug-testing rules, will take effect next month.

Robert Morus, a spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association, said the
new safeguards don’t guarantee that workers whose drug-test results
are proved false will be able to clear their names. He said some
airline workers whose test results were later tossed out have been
allowed to reapply for their old jobs, only to be placed on probation
and accelerated drug-testing schedules when they returned.

The new rules are “a mixed bag,” Capt. Morus said. “There are some
good things, but they didn’t settle all the issues. … There’s a
serious crisis in the [drug-]testing business, and they seem to not
want to reveal how serious it is.”


To the editor of the Wall Street Journal:

While it’s heartening to see the federal government finally
recognizing some unfair aspects of drug testing (“US Issues New Rules
on Drug Test Accuracy,” Dec. 15) the whole procedure should be
abandoned. Drug tests can destroy the reputation of those who have
nothing to do with drugs, but the tests may actually encourage the use
of more dangerous drugs. Marijuana can be detected by urine tests for
weeks after use; traces of heroin and cocaine can be found for only a
couple days. As the weekend starts, a savvy illegal drug user knows to
stick to the hard stuff. Marijuana never leads to death like heroin,
cocaine and alcohol sometimes do, but in a professional sense, it’s
the least safe drug. As usual, the disastrous zero tolerance tactics
of the drug war aggravate drug problems while solving nothing.

It’s reasonable to implement performance-based testing to confirm or
reject suspicions that an employee may be impaired on the job. Urine
tests, on the other hand, have as little intrinsic value as the fluid
analyzed, unless a high price is placed on an employer’s ability to
intrude on the private life of a worker.

Stephen Young

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Prepared by Stephen Young – http://home.att.net/~theyoungfamily Focus
Alert Specialist