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Pot Use Among Workers at "Historic" High, Afghanistan Opium Eradication Clashes, More... (5/6/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1211)
Consequences of Prohibition

Minnesota lawmakers are working to expedite the arrival of legal marijuana, voters in the West Texas city of Lubbock resoundingly rejected marijuana decriminalization, and more.

In Afghan fields, the poppies no longer grow, and the peasants are not happy. (UNODC)
Marijuana Policy

Drug Testing Company Says Marijuana Use Among Workers at "Historic" High. The drug testing company Quest Diagnostics has released a study finding that marijuana use among American workers reached a "historic" high in 2022. Of six million workplace urine tests Quest conducted that year, 4.3 percent came back positive, up from 3.9 percent in 2021.

The 2022 figure is the highest number of worker drug tests positive for marijuana ever recorded by Quest, which has been studying workplace drug testing since 1988.

"This historic rise seems to correspond with sharp increases in positivity for marijuana in both pre-employment and post-accident drug tests, suggesting that changing societal attitudes about marijuana may be impacting workplace behaviors," Keith Ward, general manager and vice president for employer solutions at Quest, said in a statement.

Quest says the industries that saw the largest increases in positive test results for marijuana were hospitality and food services (up 42.9 percent), retail (42.6 percent), and finance/insurance (38.5 percent).

Dr. Suhash Harwani, senior director of science for employer solutions at Quest, noted the correlation between the positivity rates and states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana.

"In the general US workforce, states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana use exhibit higher positivity rates than the national average. States that have not legalized marijuana appear to have positivity rates below the national averages," Harwani said in a statement.

Minnesota Senate Approves Expedited Timeline for Launching Licensed Marijuana Businesses. The Senate last Friday gave its approval to Senate File 4782, which would speed up the process of licensing marijuana businesses by creating a path for pre-approval of their licenses.

"This newly regulated, legalized and regulated industry is in its infancy, and we’re here to continue the work we started last year," Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville) said. "Like any new industry, it will not be fully grown on day one. This bill works to ensure a successful market launch and support the industry and Minnesotans involved in this industry as it grows and develops."

In addition to speeding up licensing, the bill would also shift responsibility for hemp-derived products from the Department of Health to the Office of Cannabis Management. It would also allow social equity applicants to begin growing marijuana later this year. They would be subject to state medical marijuana growing rules until the Office of Cannabis Management creates permanent rules next year.

A companion bill has already passed the House, but because the Senate bill was amended in committee, a conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers must now thrash out the differences.

Lubbock, Texas, Voters Reject Marijuana Decriminalization. Marijuana decriminalization suffered a surprising loss in Lubbock, where voters rejected the decriminalizing Proposition A by a margin of nearly two-to-one.

The proposal was first considered by the city council, which voted unanimously last November to oppose it after Freedom Act Lubbock gathered enough signatures to force this issue. Once it was rejected by the city council, Freedom Act Lubbock took it direct to the voters.

Opponents said that the proposed ordinance would be unenforceable because it contradicted state law and cited state Attorney General Ken Paxton's (R) lawsuit against the cities of Austin, Denton, Elgin, Killeen, and San Marcos for passing similar ordinances.

Opponents also cited the long-discredited gateway theory that marijuana use would lead to hard drug use.

"The majority of the time, it started somewhere for people with hardcore addictions. Where did it start? It started typically with marijuana," said Terisa Clark of Project Destiny, which organized against the ordinance, warning that "illegal and unregulated marijuana destroys communities, lives, and the future."


Afghan Opium Eradication Drive Sparks Conflict, Deaths. Violence erupted Saturday in Badakshan province as local residents, mainly impoverished farmers, clashed with Taliban security forces attempting to eradicate opium poppy crops.

Hundreds of local residents protesting the Taliban's move to destroy local poppy fields as part of its national anti-opium drive allegedly attacked the security personnel, leading to a violent response. They had accused Taliban forces of forcefully entering their homes and "torturing" residents.

"Angry protestors attacked security personnel, in defense the security forces attempted to disperse the protests, which unfortunately resulted in the deaths of two people," provincial spokesman Amiri said.

"The Taliban government should sit down and offer a solution if there is a problem, instead of invading people’s homes, violating their privacy, and torturing residents," said local activist Aroj Islampur.

Chief Taliban spokesman Zabibullah Mujahid said the campaign in Badakshan was part of a nationwide drive to eliminate opium production. "Regrettably, there have been incidents where offenders attempted to attack the security forces involved in the fight against poppy cultivation," he said.

Although Afghanistan was the world's leading opium producer over the past three decades, in 2022, Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a decree strictly prohibiting poppy cultivation, with violators to face crop destruction and legal penalties. Since then, the country has seen a 95 percent in poppy cultivation.

That has had negative impact on hundreds of thousands of poor farmers and rural laborers, particularly in Badakhshan and southwestern Helmand province, which were major opium producers. Clashes like those Saturday have occurred in other regions as well over the past two years.

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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