Newsbrief: Coca Tea Drinker Fired After Drug Test Wins Job Back 6/18/04

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The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled last week that a woman fired from her job as an investigator with the Cook County Sheriff's Department after testing positive for cocaine should be reinstated. Charmaine Garrido was using coca tea, not cocaine, the court found.

Garrido, the wife of a Chicago narcotics officer, testified that she drank "a significant amount" of coca tea just before being randomly drug tested. Garrido and her husband obtained the tea in Peru, where they had gone to adopt a child.

Garrido testified that a Peruvian doctor gave her the tea -- mate de coca -- and assured her it had been "decocainized." At the doctor's suggestion, she gave it to soothe her adopted child's upset stomach. "If I knew it had cocaine in it, I never would have given it to my daughter," she told the Associated Press June 14. Garrido said she and her husband had brought the tea through US Customs without problem and ordered more on the Internet, and she used it to treat flu symptoms just before she was tested. "Want some?" she asked. "I've still got two boxes here."

Garrido was fired after testing positive. On appeal, the sheriff's department argued that its zero-tolerance policy for drug use must apply even to those who ingested drugs unknowingly, but the court rejected that argument. "While it is true that an employee may lie about how an illegal drug got into his system, that does not mean it is unnecessary to address the question of what he knew or did not know or the circumstances surrounding the ingestion," the appellate judges wrote.

Cook County sheriff's spokesman Bill Cunningham, who also heads employee drug testing, said they are reviewing the decision and considering an appeal.

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Issue #342, 6/18/04 Editorial: Which Cops Would You Pick for Your Town? | Major Religious Denominations Increase Pressure on Congress for Medical Marijuana | Atlantic City Challenges Attorney General, Passes Needle Exchange Ordinance | Swiss Parliament Rejects Marijuana Legalization | All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: Oaksterdam Disappearing... for Now | Newsbrief: Federal Judge Whitman Knapp Dead at 95 -- Exposed Police Corruption, Opposed Drug War Excess | Newsbrief: Canadian Marijuana Party in Unique Campaign Finance Scheme | Newsbrief: Philippine Travel Advisory | Newsbrief: Coca Tea Drinker Fired After Drug Test Wins Job Back | Newsbrief: ACLU Sues Detroit Over School Drug Raids | Newsbrief: Portugal Uses Reefer to Calm Soccer Hooligans | This Week in History | Web Scan: Richard Paey in Weekly Planet, Conference Photographs | The Reformer's Calendar
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