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20 April 2008

pee in the cup, make Drug War predators rich / a celebration of Junk Science translated into national policy

The Amador Ledger Dispatch
Amador County, California USA
Friday 11 April 2008

High school students
may face
drug testing policy

High school students in Amador County may get drug testing added to their curricula if they want to continue participating in school sports and other extracurricular activities.

The Amador County Unified School District Board of Trustees is considering a policy on student drug testing, based on coach and community surveys and students interviews, that would require a random testing program for students participating in extracurricular activities.

Mike Carey, superintendent of schools in Amador County, addressed board members at the district's bi-monthly meeting Wednesday night at the County Administration center in Jackson regarding the issue. After observing meetings between board members and high school students last week as they discussed the drug testing issue, Carey said he "found it interesting to see what the students had to say."

"Many of them were open to drug testing," he said, adding that he got a "clear message" that a policy requiring such should be looked into.

According to data from 2007, 13 percent of high schools in the U.S. have a drug testing program in place, Carey told the board. Cost per test was thought to be $20 to $50, he said, noting that after further research, he found that tests could cost as low as $4 each.

"It's not a real expensive program."

The board has reviewed seven current testing policies, according to an Amador County Public Schools document available at the meeting. District attorneys will review the proposed policy.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities such as athletics, drama and other activities may be affected if the policy is enacted, Carey said. Students in band would, most likely, not have to participate in testing, he said. "I'd want to run it by our legal council ( though )."

Board Clerk Karl Knobelauch asked Carey what would be done in the case of drug tests that may result in "false positives"; for example, he said, poppy seeds may test positive for Opiates.

In that case, a second testing would be done, Carey said.

Parents would also have the option of nominating their children to take a drug test, he added.

Board members will discuss the issue at the next district meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 at the Amador County Administration Building.

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Letter to the Editor
The Amador Ledger Dispatch
Amador County, California USA
Friday 18 April 2008

False positives

A major concern about drug testing is the fact that 65 prescription and over the counter medications produce false positive results. If someone takes Advil, Nuprin, Motrin, Excedrin IB ( Ibuprofen ), Aleve ( Naproxen ) , has a Kidney infection, Diabetes or Liver Disease there could be a false positive for marijuana. Nyquil, Contact, Sudafed, Allerest, Tavist-D, Dimetapp, Phenegan-D, Robitussin Cold and Flu, Vicks Nyquil ( Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, propylephedrine, phenylephrine, or desoxyephedrine ) create erroneous indications for amphetamines. Poppy Seeds, Tylenol with codeine, Cough suppressants with Dextromethorphan ( DXM ), and most prescription pain medications produce a false positive for Heroin use.

Random drug testing has not been proven to deter drug use. In 2003, the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the largest study ever conducted on the topic. Researchers found no differences in illegal drug use among students in schools that tested and those that did not.

Incidentally, using a $4 drug test is about as effective as using a peashooter to hunt elephants, the false positive rate will be enormous. But what do the Board of Trustees care about how many kids they wreck so long as they can posture as drug crusaders. A few expensive law suits because of false positives will give Amador County Trustees some new financial problems to wrestle with.

While they held office, Peter Bensinger ( former DEA head ), Robert L Dupont ( former drug czar ) and Carlton Turner ( former drug czar ) shamelessly promoted drug testing as the solution to drug problems. Later, they joined together to form Bensinger, Dupont & Associates, the world's largest drug testing company, to cash in the drug testing laws they wrote. Bensinger, Dupont & Associates reaps a fortune for their useless drug testing schemes.

The only beneficiaries of drug testing are the makers of the tests.

Redford Givens, webmaster
DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy


[sent, not yet published]

Letters to the Editor
The Amador Ledger Dispatch

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing Redford Givens' letter "False positives" (18 April). A generation of parents has been taught to place its "drug-free America" faith and hope on the junk science of drug testing, but rarely learns that our national policy of drug testing has built an empire of wealth for former Drug War "public servants." They are more accurately private predators, and we are their prey.

Givens' long and well-documented list of medications and medical conditions which regularly spew back false positives isn't the junkiest junk that plagues and invalidates this strange and questionable "science."

Bayes' Theorem has been a proven keystone of statistics and probability since the 18th century. Long before drug testing even existed, it flatly states that there will always be a built-in, unavoidable, high percentage of unreliable results in any such test, no matter how accurate the test is.

Wikipedia's example of Bayes' application to drug testing uses a test that "will correctly identify a drug user as testing positive 99% of the time, and will correctly identify a non-user as testing negative 99% of the time."

But Bayes' Theorem concludes: "Despite the high accuracy of the test, the probability that an employee who tested positive actually did use drugs is only about 33%, so it is actually more likely that the employee is not a drug user."

The mathematics departments of the nation's finest universities have dozens of similar explanations of the fundamental unreliability of drug testing, easily Googled by the keywords "Bayes" and "drug testing."

Math hurts. But putting our schoolkids' reputations and futures in the hands of greedy junk scientists will hurt our kids far more than math class ever did.

Robert Merkin

Northampton MA

1 comment:

cristian said...

I think this could have bouth benefits and the oposite, because people should be free to do everything they want as long that what they do don't affect those around them,in school teen agers get high with light drugs like cannabis and I think that kind of drug is not so dangerous regarding the fact that cannabis is from my point of view cool.

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