Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are Attitudes about Marijuana Changing in America In recent months, there have been notable developments in the national debate about use, abuse and the putative medicinal uses of marijuana. For many bystanders, there appears to be a tectonic attitudinal shift underway. The U.S. seems to be creeping towards a more acceptant stance on the use of pot. Especially with the millennials, there is a dissonance with this newly evolved marijuana perspective. Scientific research has offered up several very rigorous examinations of marijuana's impacts on human neuroanatomy. It's becoming abundantly clear that marijuana use in early years can lead to some severe mental illness in adulthood. We also are pretty clear on the fact that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is an addictive substance-people can and do become physically dependent on pot. Regular smokers of marijuana are usually physically dependent on it; in other words, were a regular user to suddenly stop smoking "weed", he/she would experience physical withdrawal. And the withdrawals will persist for weeks, even months following the last bong hit. Marijuana is not a drug to be fooled with, just ask a marijuana addict who is now sober. Despite the slew of cautionary studies linking marijuana to a variety of psychiatric phenomenon, there seems to be a steady drum beat for decriminalization and expanded medical use. Over the last few years public health officials, addiction specialists and politicians have opined that the criminal justice system needs a paradigmatic shift, one that pushes it towards a treatment bias for those who come to the criminal justice system behind a drug possession arrest. In the U.S. attorney general's opinion, prisons are full of non-violent drug addicts whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the right time with a pocket full of drugs. Of course that is a fast and oversimplification of the situation, but the AG's opinion stands in stark contrast to all attorneys general who have preceded him. We've also heard from the governor of New Jersey and his call for utilization of medical marijuana to treat some forms of childhood epilepsy. He has said that he is favor of medical marijuana use in his state, he just wants there to be adequate controls instituted to manage it. Gallup and Pew research polls show that Americans are almost evenly split on the idea of relaxed marijuana laws. Several states (Washington and Colorado) have recently downgraded personal marijuana possession and have essentially legalized the use of the drug; there are more restrictions on tobacco in those states than there are controls on marijuana. At a time where abuse of prescription drugs is skyrocketing, marijuana continues to make inroads in the daily lives of Americans. With up to 3 out of 10 Americans being regular users of the drug, marijuana is on an inexorable path towards decriminalization and then ultimately, legalization. For those who believe that this is a bad idea, the time has come to take action. Our democratic form of government still works. It's time to communicate with state representatives about this phenomenon. If concerned folks don't speak up, and if they don't vote, they won't have any more ground to stand upon and complain.

Friday, October 4, 2013

POCT ORAL FLUID DRUG TESTING AND STATE LAWS THAT REGULATE USE By Bill Current One of the hot issues in this year's annual drug testing industry survey conducted by WFC & Associates was oral fluid drug testing. It stands to reason seeing as the federal government is inching its way through the process of writing regulations that will eventually permit lab-based oral fluid testing. The over-arching effect of this process is that many people are also asking about rapid-result oral fluid testing in addition to lab-based testing. However, it's important to note that the two testing methods can be very different in some key ways. Oral fluid testing, compared to urine testing, is easier to collect, considered by many to be less invasive, and much more difficult, if not impossible, to adulterate. Oral fluid can be used to reveal the presence of the same drugs detected with urine testing. The window of detection can be shorter with oral fluid compared to urine, but it begins almost immediately after ingestion of a drug making it ideal for reasonable suspicion and post-accident testing. The biggest difference, though not the only difference, is with rapid-result testing you get, well, a rapid result. For some companies and organizations an immediate result is important and it's worth whatever trade-offs that may be involved in not getting a lab-based result. There are two critical questions that must be thoroughly explored by any company planning to use rapid-result/POCT oral fluid testing: 1) is the device being considered FDA-cleared, and 2) are oral fluid testing and rapid-result testing permitted in the states where you are located? The answer to both questions must be "yes" before a company can implement a rapid-result oral fluid testing program. Remember, when it comes to state drug testing laws there are states with mandatory laws that apply to all employers who wish to conduct drug testing in a particular state, and states with voluntary laws that only apply to employers who are participating in a program that offers certain benefits to employers who comply with the state-regulated program. (There are also a handful of state with no drug testing statutes.) With that in mind, following is the status of POCToral fluid drug testing and state drug testing laws. States That Prohibit Oral Fluid Testing. The good news is that oral fluid drug testing is legal in virtually every state. Among states with mandatory drug testing laws only three prohibit oral fluid testing in the workplace: Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. Additionally, the territory of Puerto Rico requires urine testing. States That Prohibit Rapid-Result Testing. There are four states that prohibit rapid-result testing in the workplace and, as such, also prohibit rapid-result oral fluid testing. These states are: Kansas, Minnesota, New York and Vermont. (New York actually permits POCT but makes it nearly impossible for the average employer to qualify to use POCT devices on-site.) States That Require FDA-cleared Devices. Additionally, some states only permit FDA-cleared POCT devices for workplace testing. In Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey and Oklahoma you can use POCT oral fluid testing as long as the device being used is FDA-cleared. All other devices would not be permitted in the workplace. States with Voluntary Laws that Prohibit Oral Fluid Testing. Finally, among states with voluntary drug testing laws, these states do not permit any type of rapid-result or POCT devices in the workplace: Alaska, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. Outside of the voluntary law in these states employers are not restricted from using POCT devices. Keep in mind that other procedural requirements in a state drug testing law typically apply to all forms of drug testing. For example, when a state regulates how collections must be conducted or how test results must be reported, these requirements will likely apply to oral fluid testing or POCT just as they do to lab-based urine testing. All of the state law information referred to in this article only applies to drug testing. Even if a particular state prohibits oral fluid drug testing it may very well permit saliva alcohol testing. Also, this article only pertains to workplace drug testing. Non-workplace organizations that conduct drug testing usually are not required to comply with the same drug testing laws as employers. Oral fluid testing and rapid-result testing are very common in the criminal justice and treatment markets, among others.
New Recreational Drug "MOLLY" Popular but Deadly! Molly,' short for 'molecule,' is the newest form of the recreational drug Ecstasy. Be on the alert for the word Molly. It's the name for a recreational drug popular in today's club scene. It's glorified by some high-profile entertainers. Miley Cyrus references the drug in her song "We Can't Stop": "We like to party, dancing with Molly, doing whatever we want. " The singer Madonna asked at a recent concert audience, "How many of you have seen Molly?" (Although when questioned about it she denied she was speaking about the drug and was instead referring to an actual person.) Molly, short for molecule, is the newest form of the recreational drug Ecstasy. It creates a feeling of euphoria and is very popular at techno clubs, raves and other concert-type events. Most users foolishly believe it is safe, non-addictive and without side effects. But that is not true. It's being linked to a string of overdoses, even deaths. Over the Labor Day weekend, a dance music festival in New York City ended early after the deaths of two young people, 23-year-old Jeffery Russ and 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo. "I just took six hits of molly,'' Rotondo reportedly told an EMS worker before collapsing in a seizure and dying. Molly causes the body temperature to skyrocket to 105-106 and makes individuals more prone to heat stroke. The huge multi-day "Electric Zoo Music Festival" was shut down after concert organizers learned the victims died after taking the drug Molly. Concert-goers were surprised to learn of the deaths. One unidentified audience member was quoted as saying, "Musta got a bad batch, or something happened bad, you know, you don't usually hear stuff about people dying over that kind of stuff." The most recent government statistics about Molly date back to 2009, and its popularity has exploded since then. But even four years ago, government data reported nearly 23,000 emergency room visits due to Molly overdoses, which was a 123 percent increase from 2005. In addition to the two deaths at the Labor Day concert, four others were rushed to the hospital for overdosing on Molly. They are expected to survive. A week earlier, in Boston, a 19-year-old girl died of a suspected overdose following a concert. In June, a man died and dozens more were treated for overdosing on molly at a music festival in Washington state. According to Dr. Jayson Calton, "While the drug makes you love life, it can also make you lose life."