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More Truck Drivers Refuse Drug Tests, KS Asset Forfeiture Reform Heads to Governor, More... (4/9/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1208)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs a bill protecting medical marijuana-using state and local government employees, GOP senator demands Border Patrol step back from easing restrictions on past marijuana use among new hires, and more.

More truck drivers are just saying no to drug testing. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

GOP Senator Demands Border Patrol Undo Hiring Policy Allowing for Recent Marijuana Use. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) sent a letter Sunday to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) demanding that the agency undo a recent change allowing the hiring of people who admitted to using marijuana more than 90 days before hiring. Prior to the policy change, CBP had enforced a rule requiring no marijuana use for the previous two years.

Claiming that the policy change "undermines the security and integrity of the Border Patrol workforce and flatly contradicts Border Patrol's mission to protect our nation against illegal drugs," Lankford demanded that CBP "restore the two-year lookback on marijuana usage among Border Patrol recruits."

Lankford accuses CBP of using the policy change to "incentivize additional recruits." CBP suffers from chronic understaffing.

Medical Marijuana

Virginia Governor Approves Bill Granting Employment Protections to State and Local Government Workers. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has signed into law a pair of bills, Senate Bill 391 and House Bill 149 that expand the state's employment protections for medical marijuana patients to public employees. The new law takes effect July 1, 2024.

Current state law bars private employers from firing or discriminating against workers lawfully using medical marijuana but provides no such protection for state and local government workers.

Law enforcement officers are excluded from the protections.

Asset Forfeiture

Kansas Legislature Approves Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. With a final Senate floor vote last Friday, lawmakers have approved legislation that will enact some asset forfeiture reforms, Senate Bill 458.

Among the bill's features: "Specifying that certain drug offenses do not give rise to forfeiture under the Kansas standard asset seizure and forfeiture act, requiring courts to make a finding that forfeiture is not excessive, restricting actions prior to commencement of forfeiture proceedings, requiring probable cause affidavit filing and review to commence proceedings, increasing the burden of proof required to forfeit property to clear and convincing evidence and authorizing courts to order payment of attorney fees and costs for certain claimants."

In a report released last year, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation-Kansas found that state law enforcement seized more than $25 million in cash and property. Most seizures did not "involve figures unrelated to organized crime, but a significant loss for the average person."

Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is expected to sign the bills.

Drug Testing

More Truck Drivers Refuse Drug Testing Even as Positive Drug Tests Fall. A new report from the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finds that the number of positive drug tests among commercial truck drivers decreased from nearly 58,000 in 2022 to just over 54,000 last year. But at the same time, the number of drivers who refused to be drug tested jumped a whopping 39 percent.

The record-high number of refusals comes as the industry is plagued by a shortage of drivers, which even some trade groups said has been exacerbated by the screening of drivers for marijuana, which risks punishing drivers who are not impaired on the job. (Marijuana testing detects metabolites that can remain in the system for days after short-term impairment has worn off.

Because the refusals are counted as failed drug tests, even though fewer positive test results were reported, the total number of drug violations by truckers rose -- to 68,229 in 2023 compared to 67,775 a year earlier.

"The overall rise in drug violations in 2023, even though there are fewer positive tests, is attributed to a nearly 40% increase in reported drug test refusals -- 9,214 in 2022 versus 12,804 in 2023," the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said. "Drug test refusals include employer-reported refusals like failing to show up for a random test, or leaving a test collection facility after a test has begun but before it's complete."

Marijuana was by far the most common drug detected, followed by cocaine (10,000 positive test results), meth (4,500), other amphetamines (4,200), and various prescription opioids (4,500). Marijuana positives actually decreased from 40,916 in 2022 to 37,657 last year.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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