Privacy

RSS Feed for this category

The Drug Czar's Blog Accidentally Admits That Drug Laws Ruin Lives

Yesterday, in a post titled "Random Drug Testing Can Save Lives," the Drug Czar once again blogged himself into a corner. The piece quotes extensively from a Kentucky newspaper article, which argues that random drug testing will save students from getting arrested:
"There was a tragedy in Scott County last week. A young man's future was ruined, and the events that took place will likely haunt him for the rest of his life.

Unless you've been on vacation, you've probably already heard that a superstar athlete on the Scott County basketball team was arrested on felony drug charges, which could result in him going to prison for as long as 10 years. [Georgetown News]

That's awful. But what does this have to do with random drug testing?

...Whether we realize it or not, the real tragedy is this young man wasn't caught sooner, through a less punitive program intended to help youthful offenders, not send them to prison. The greater tragedy, to my way of thinking, is that we, as a community and a school system, haven't seen fit to acknowledge reality and implement a random drug testing program in our high school, and perhaps our middle schools.

So what exactly did this young man do that could get him locked away for 10 years? He was arrested for 1.6 grams of crack on school grounds. Crack/powder sentencing disparity + school zone = 10 years for a one-day supply of drugs.

By conceding that this young man's life has been ruined, the Drug Czar does far more to indict our brutally unfair sentencing laws than to promote random drug testing. He is literally telling us that we should let him collect urine from our children, otherwise his drug soldiers will put them in jail for a decade.

And if that doesn't make your head spin, consider that cocaine leaves your system in 1-2 days and will rarely come up in a drug screen anyway. You can smoke crack all night on Friday and pass a drug test on Monday, so none of this whole insane conversation about saving people from crack laws with drug testing even makes sense to begin with.

Location: 
United States

Does Partnership for a Drug Free America Oppose Random Student Drug Testing?

As the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) parades around the nation promoting random student drug testing in schools, one of its biggest allies has remained conspicuously silent on this controversial issue. The Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) has been the loudest "anti-drug" voice in America ever since its famous 1987 "This is your brain on drugs" ad and currently produces ad spots for ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

Yet despite extensive cooperation between the two organizations, PDFA appears not to have bought into ONDCP's hype surrounding random student drug testing. PDFA Parental Advisory Board Member Judith Kirkwood has vocally condemned the practice in the press and on her blog, calling it ineffective and invasive. Meanwhile, the PDFA website, which provides extensive "anti-drug" resources for families, only recommends drug testing at the discretion of parents, with suspicion of drug use, and under medical supervision.

For clarification, we contacted PDFA to verify the organization's stance on student drug testing. Surprisingly, their media contact was initially unprepared to address the issue. We eventually heard back from PDFA Deputy Director of Public Affairs Josie Feliz, who acknowledged that "We stay away from that a little bit. It's an individual decision for parents to make." Finally, when pressed, she said, "We don't have policy one way or the other on this."

Of course, saying drug testing is "an individual decision for parents to make," certainly sounds like a policy statement, and one which contrasts sharply with that of ONDCP. The Drug Czar has aggressively touted random student drug testing as a central tool in the effort to reduce drug use among youth. Indeed, his goal is without a doubt to collect urine from as many students as possible with minimal supervision and no individualized suspicion of drug use.

We can only guess why it might be that PDFA does not advocate random student drug testing, but possibilities abound:

*Tests frequently return inaccurate results.
*Numerous studies show testing does not reduce drug use.
*Testing treats innocent students as drug suspects.
*Testing encourages use of less-detectible/more dangerous drugs.
*Tests are easily obscured by cheating.
*Testing requirements discourage participation in extra-curricular activities.
*Testing requires school administrators to look at students' genitals while they urinate.
*Testing takes money away from programs that actually work.
*Testing distracts students and teachers from educational priorities.

Whatever their concerns may be, PDFA's unwillingness to promote random student drug testing is the correct position to take. It is unlikely that they would part ways with their colleagues at ONDCP -- undoubtedly a politically uncomfortable situation for them -- if they were not convinced that random student drug testing is the wrong answer in the fight to reduce youth drug abuse. All of this is symbolic of the growing consensus among physicians, addiction specialists, educators, parents, and students that these programs are severely misguided.

Location: 
United States

Collecting of Details on Travelers Documented

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Washington Post
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/21/AR2007092102347.html?sub=AR

Drug Testing: ACLU Will Sue to Block Hawaii Teacher Testing

In a press release last Friday, the ACLU of Hawaii announced it is preparing to challenge an Aloha State plan to randomly test teachers, librarians, and other public school system employees. The policy, the first in the nation to randomly drug test teachers, was agreed to by a bargaining unit of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) during the 2006-2007 school year.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/volcano-national-park.jpg
Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
Some Hawaii public officials seized on the drug-related arrests of six teachers in the run-up to the contract negotiations to demand that teachers be drug tested. With the HSTA bargaining unit deep in hard-fought negotiations to secure better wages, educators were faced with a deeply troubling offer: accept random drug testing in exchange for wage increases. After heated discussion within the bargaining unit, a slight majority okayed the deal.

But that didn't sit well with some school teachers, who complained that the union was strong-armed by the state. HSTA head Joan Husted told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "There are teachers who believe they were blackmailed," she said, "but we also heard from teachers who believe they have an obligation to ensure their schools are drug-free."

Nor did it sit well with the Hawaii ACLU, which announced a series of public events to publicize its challenge to the agreement. The publicity is also designed to let Hawaii teachers and other bargaining unit employees know the ACLU is looking for plaintiffs for the lawsuit.

"The Constitution does not allow us to put a price tag on our right to privacy, and we look forward to representing Hawaii educators who are willing to stand up for their constitutional rights, " said Lois Perrin, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii. "Our education system is failing students by resorting to dragnet searches that do little to protect anyone while violating the rights of everyone."

"Hawaii now has the dubious distinction of being the first state ever to subject its teachers to a blanket policy of random drug testing," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, a division of the national ACLU. Boyd is an expert on the constitutional implications of random drug testing policies and has litigated a number of cases nationwide against such policies, including a 2004 US Supreme Court case challenging the random drug testing of students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. "I look forward to joining the ACLU of Hawaii and local teachers who agree that this policy conveys the wrong civics lesson to our students and to the nation."

The Hawaii ACLU will be in for a fight. State Attorney General Mark Barnett told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin the program "violates neither state nor federal law" and he would defend it against any challenge. "We will vigorously defend it," he said. "We believe that the state and the teachers union have an absolute right to sign this type of a contract."

Drug Testing Encourages Cocaine, Heroin, and Meth Use

Anti-drug activist Debbie Fowler became a vocal supporter of student drug testing after her son Adam died from a heroin overdose:

Just a few weeks ago, Fowler testified at a congressional hearing for the Office of National Drug Control policy.

"I speak for them ... for funding of the president funding student drug testing programs," Fowler said. "I've done quite a few things for them." [Tribune-Democrat]

Certainly, Debbie Fowler would have liked to know about her son's heroin use before it took his life. Her motivations are very easy to understand. Unfortunately, she appears not to realize that drug testing encourages the use of the most dangerous drugs.

Schools rely almost exclusively on cheap urine tests, which can only detect cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine within a couple days of ingestion. Students know they can use these drugs on a Friday evening and test clean on Monday, so a random testing program is not effective at curbing use of these drugs. Unfortunately, the effect is sometimes quite the opposite.

Marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug, remains detectable for up to a month. Thus the proliferation of random student drug testing necessarily creates awareness among young people about which drugs are "safe" if you're worried about being tested. The switch from marijuana to stronger less-detectable drugs is a very real consequence of student drug testing, which has yet to be acknowledged by drug testing proponents.

I know that this problem is real because I've seen it first hand. In high school, I witnessed classmates asking around for drugs other than marijuana, precisely because they were being tested. Alcohol was the most popular marijuana substitute, but others surfaced as well. "You'll pass your drug test," became a selling point for substances other than marijuana.

This is just the truth about drug testing and how it effects the decisions young people make. Feel free to ignore me, or dismiss my judgments as the prejudiced fulminations of a pro-drug zealot. But drug testing, for very simple scientific reasons, has become a gateway to experimentation with more dangerous, less-detectible drugs. If anyone in the drug prevention community is wondering why student drug testing programs keep being proven not to reduce youth drug use, maybe you'll start thinking about these sorts of things.

Location: 
United States

Just Because Criminals Use Drugs Doesn't Mean Drugs Cause Crime

ONDCP's latest blog post boldly proclaims that drugs cause crime because most people who get arrested test positive for drugs. As is their habit, ONDCP's post was created by taking a newspaper article, misunderstanding it, and then drawing exaggerated conclusions that are factually wrong:

The Drug-Crime Link: Most Adults Committing Crimes in San Diego High at Time of Arrest

A new report out of San Diego County illustrates the strong connection between using drugs and committing crime. The North County Times reports:

"While the number of adults that test positive for drugs when arrested dropped slightly in 2006 compared with the year before, narcotics use continues to show up in more than 70 percent of arrestees, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Diego Association of Governments...

The headline alone contains two wildly inaccurate claims. For starters, being arrested doesn't mean you've actually committed a crime. Duh. This may seem insignificant, since drug use rates are probably the same or higher among those convicted. Still, it's a reflection of ONDCP's mindset that arrestees are simply presumed guilty.

More to the point, testing positive for drugs absolutely doesn’t mean you're high. Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine remain detectable in your system for up to 4 days, while PCP and marijuana can linger for up to a month. We can identify these drugs in someone's body, but we cannot prove when the drugs were ingested or whether they were intoxicated at the time of arrest.

ONDCP's whole premise that drug use makes people go crazy and break the law is just not supported at all by this data. Addicted users frequently commit crimes precisely because they're no longer high, but they'd like to be. This link can be better addressed through maintenance programs and by eliminating the black market that inflates prices and forces addicts to steal.

Marijuana users, on the other hand, are unlikely to ever pass a drug test if they use more than twice a month. How many of these arrestees are just marijuana users who smoked days or weeks before an unrelated arrest? It's the most widely used and most detectable illicit drug, so its inclusion skews the entire picture.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's a huge drug war going on, which causes drug users to be arrested at alarming rates. It's the number one thing people get arrested for. If we stopped arresting people for having drugs, the percentage of arrestees who test positive for them would decrease substantially. Literally, the government is arresting people for drugs, then claiming that you shouldn’t do drugs because they'll cause you to get yourself arrested.

Don't get me wrong, there is a drug-crime link, but it's not the one you read about at PushingBack.com. It's a product of the great war we've declared on one another, and it will go away only when we admit our terrible mistake.

Location: 
United States

Law Enforcement: Illegal Search Kills Prosecution in Largest Heroin Bust in California History

Two Mexican brothers arrested in the largest heroin seizure in California history walked free this week after federal prosecutors in San Diego dropped the charges against them. Prosecutors had little choice because a federal judge ruled last month that police had violated the Fourth Amendment's ban on warrantless searches and threw out the evidence against them. Two others arrested in the case have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

At the time of the Valentine's Day bust, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nearly dislocated their shoulders patting themselves on the back for uncovering what they described as a major heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana trafficking operation. But their eagerness to search and make arrests eventually cost them the case.

It all started when ICE agents at the San Ysidro border crossing found a car with nearly 12 kilos of Mexican heroin hidden inside. The driver was allowed to continue to his destination in Anaheim under ICE surveillance. The driver met with another man, then drove to an Anaheim house and pulled into the garage. Without waiting for a search warrant, ICE agents entered and searched the house, arresting six people and seizing 121 pounds of heroin, 34 pounds of marijuana, and 3 pounds of methamphetamine, along with about $3,500 in cash.

Attorneys for the two Mexicans argued in court papers the men had been staying at the Anaheim home and had a "reasonable expectation to privacy" guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. They also argued that there was no threat to officer safety or that the evidence would be destroyed if ICE waited to get a search warrant.

Federal prosecutors argued that agents had no time to obtain a search warrant and that the drugs and the driver who led agents to the house were at risk, but US District Court Judge James Selna wasn't buying it. He instead ruled for the defense, holding that the search was unconstitutional and that the evidence derived from that search -- the seized drugs -- could not be admitted in court.

"To me, the issue is a rule of law and it won," said attorney Joel Levine, who represented one of the brothers.

Search and Seizure: Arizona Supreme Court Limits Vehicle Searches

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled late last month that police cannot routinely search the vehicles of people they arrest. In a 3-2 decision in State v. Gant, the court held that the warrantless search of Rodney Gant's vehicle after he was arrested, handcuffed, and sitting in the back seat of a police car went beyond an allowable search incident to arrest and was "not justifiable."

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/car-search.jpg
police searching accused drug traffickers' car
Gant, from Tucson, was convicted on drug charges after police waiting for him as part of a drug investigation arrested him on a warrant for driving on a suspended license when he drove up to a targeted address. Police knew he had the pre-existing warrant because they had checked up on him during an earlier encounter at the same address. When Gant drove up and got out of his car, police called him over and arrested and handcuffed him. They then searched the vehicle and found the drugs that led to his conviction. The court overturned the conviction, calling the search a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The legal argument centered around whether the facts in this case were consistent with a search incident to arrest. US courts have recognized searches incident to arrest as one of the few areas where the Fourth Amendment requirement of probable cause or a search warrant not does apply, citing officer safety and the need to preserve evidence.

The Arizona Supreme Court held that the search of Gant's vehicle after he was already under arrest and handcuffed for a traffic warrant was not a search incident to arrest. "When the justifications [for a search incident to arrest] no longer exist because the scene is secure and the arrestee is handcuffed, secured in the back of a patrol car, and under the supervision of an officer, the warrantless search of the arrestee's car cannot be justified as necessary to protect the officers at the scene or prevent the destruction of evidence," wrote Justice Rebecca Berch for the majority.

Arizona law enforcement was not happy about the ruling, and some agencies suggested they would find ways to skirt it. Police departments across the state, working with the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arizona Law Enforcement Legal Advisors' Association, filed briefs urging the court to uphold the conviction and hinting they would adopt different arrest procedures -- perhaps not handcuffing suspects until after a vehicle search -- to be able to continue the practice.

Justice Berch addressed that implied threat in her opinion. "We presume that police officers will exercise proper judgment in their contacts with arrestees and will not engage in conduct which creates unnecessary risks to their safety or public safety in order to circumvent the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements," she wrote.

MPs queue to prove they are drug-free

Location: 
Rome
Italy
Publication/Source: 
The Times (UK)
URL: 
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2182552.ece

Most schools won't drug test

Location: 
TN
United States
Publication/Source: 
Ashland City Times (TN)
URL: 
http://www.ashlandcitytimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070724/SPORTS11/707240351/1291/MTCN01

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School