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Supporters Turn In 129,000 Signatures In Favor Of Colorado Pot Legalization Initiative

August 10, 2006 - Denver, CO, USA
Denver, CO: Supporters of a proposed statewide initiative to eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of cannabis by adults turned in 129,000 signatures this week to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office to place the measure on the November 2006 ballot. State law requires proponents to collect valid signatures from 68,000 registered Colorado voters in order to qualify the initiative on the electoral ballot.

"The fact that we collected nearly twice as many signatures as are required under [state law] highlights the widespread support for ending the madness of marijuana prohibition in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, Campaign Director for Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) the organization sponsoring the initiative.
If certified by state officials and approved by voters this November, the measure would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal in Colorado for those age 21 or older. Last year, voters in Denver approved a similar municipal measure by 54 percent.
 

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Heavy Cannabis Use Not Independently Associated With Cardiovascular Risks


August 10, 2006 - San Francisco, CA, USA
San Francisco, CA: Heavy marijuana use is not independently associated with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors, according the findings of a 15-year longitudinal study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.
Investigators at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, assessed the association between marijuana use and caloric intake, body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular risk factors in 3,617 young adults participating in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults project (CARDIA). Though heavy self-reported use of cannabis was associated with higher caloric intake (3,365 calories per day in those who used cannabis 1,800 days over a 15 year period versus 2,746 calories per day in non-users), marijuana use alone was not associated with higher levels of triglycerides, atherosclerosis, or blood pressure among respondents.
Investigators did note that the heavy use of cannabis and alcohol together was positively associated with cardiovascular risk factors.
A previous review of cannabis use and cardiotoxicity published earlier this year in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology reported that moderate marijuana use likely poses little cardiovascular risk in humans.
In human trials, cannabis smoking is typically associated with a dose-dependent increase in heart rate and blood pressure in marijuana-naive subjects, though users often become completely tolerant to these effects over time. By contrast, cannabinoid administration in animals is typically associated with vasodilation, transient bradycardia and hypotension. The administration of synthetic cannabinoids has also been shown to lower blood pressure in animals and has not been associated with cardiotoxicity in humans. In addition, recent studies demonstrate that anandamide and other endocannabinoids profoundly suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension and can normalize blood pressure.
 

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NORML's Daily "AudioStash" Approaches 100,000 Downloads

August 10, 2006 - Washington, DC, USA
Washington, DC: Nearly 100,000 listeners have downloaded episodes of NORML's daily podcast since the program¹s launch in June. The original 30-minute programming, known as "NORML's Daily AudioStash: The Growing Truth About Marijuana," is available via podcast and direct MP3 download every weekday at 4:20pm at either http://www.normlaudiostash.com or http://www.norml.org
Archived shows are also available online.
"In just two months, nearly 100,000 marijuana law reformers have tuned into NORML's daily programming to keep abreast of the latest pot-related science, news, and events information that they won't find anywhere else but on 'NORML's AudioStash,'" NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. "The popularity of NORML's daily podcast illustrates that there are large numbers of Americans who desire fact-based, educational information about marijuana and marijuana law reform, and that this population is increasingly turning to NORML and away from the federal government and the mass media in order to obtain it."
According to tabulations released by Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, NORML's podcasts rank as one of the most popular political audio programs available on the Internet. Guests on NORML's "AudioStash" have included Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), noted travel author Rick Steves, Allen Hopper of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Litigation Project, NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earlywine, Burning Rainbow Farm author Dean Kuipers, comedian Tommy Chong, and many others.
 

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Week of August 17, 2006

Cannabinoid May Halt Alzheimer's Progression, Study Says
August 17, 2006 - La Jolla, CA, USA
La Jolla, CA: THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary marker for Alzheimer's disease (AD), far more effectively than approved medications, according to preclinical data to be published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
Investigators at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California reported that THC inhibits the enzyme responsible for the aggregation of amyloid plaque in a manner "considerably superior" to approved Alzheimer's drugs such as donepezil and tacrine.
"Our results provide a mechanism whereby the THC molecule can directly impact Alzheimer's disease pathology," researchers concluded. "THC and its analogues may provide an improved therapeutic [option] for Alzheimer's disease [by]... simultaneously treating both the symptoms and the progression of [the] disease."
Previous studies have shown cannabinoids to possess anti oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which may play a role in moderating Alzheimer's.
Last year, investigators at Madrid's Complutense University and the Cajal Institute in Spain reported that the intracerebroventricular administration of the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 prevented cognitive impairment and decreased neurotoxicity in rats. Other cannabinoids were also found to reduce the inflammation associated with Alzheimer's disease in human brain tissue in culture. "Our results indicate that... cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease," investigators concluded.
Over 4.5 million Americans are estimated to be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. That figure is expected to triple over the next 50 years.
Previous human trials of synthetic THC (Marinol) and Alzheimer's found that administration of the drug reduced agitation and stimulated weight gain in patients suffering from the disease.
 

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Colorado Cannabis Legalization Initiative Certified For November Ballot
August 17, 2006 - Denver, CO, USA
Denver, CO: The Colorado Secretary of State's office announced Wednesday that a statewide initiative that seeks to eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of cannabis by adults has been certified to appear on the November 2006 ballot.
Sponsored by Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the measure would amend state statutes to make the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis legal in Colorado for those age 21 or older. Last year, voters in Denver passed a similar municipal initiative by 54 percent.
Sponsors turned in more than 130,000 signatures from Colorado voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
"The campaign will highlight the hypocrisy of laws that prohibit the use of marijuana while allowing and even encouraging the use of alcohol, an infinitely more harmful drug," said SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert.
 

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Seattle Hempfest Celebrates 15 Years This Weekend
August 17, 2006 - Seattle, WA, USA
Seattle, WA: Event organizers are anticipating nearly 150,000 attendees at this weekend's 15th annual Seattle Hempfest, taking place this Saturday and Sunday at Myrtle Edwards Park in downtown Seattle. More than 80 speakers - including NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and NORML Founder Keith Stroup - and over 50 bands will participate in the two-day event, which is the largest annual marijuana law reform rally held anywhere in the world.
Other speakers scheduled to appear at this year's "protestival" include: NORML Board and Advisory Board Members Dale Gieringer, Dominic Holden, Norm Kent, Frank Lucido, George Rohrbacher, Norm Stamper, Jeffrey Steinborn, and Dan Viets, as well as Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Mikki Norris, Executive Director of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, Madeline Martinez, Executive Director of Oregon NORML, and Debby Goldsberry, Executive Director of the Cannabis Action Network.
For a complete schedule of this year's Seattle Hempfest speakers and events, please visit: http://www.seattlehempfest.org/
 

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DOE Cuts Funding For Random Student Drug Testing Programs
August 17, 2006 - Washington, DC, USA
Washington, DC: The US Department of Education (DOE) has dramatically reduced the level of funding available to subsidize random student drug testing programs in public high schools and middle schools, according to the agency's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
According to the agency, only $1.7 million in federal funds will be available for schools that wish to enact student drug testing programs for the 2006-2007 school year. Last year, the DOE subsidized student drug testing programs in 350 schools nationwide at a total cost of more than $7 million.
The White House had previously proposed increasing the budget to fund student drug testing programs to more than $25 million.
According to the DOE, grantees will be required to participate in an ongoing national evaluation of the effectiveness of mandatory student drug testing programs.
To date, the only federal study to assess the impact of student drug testing policies on a national basis found that "drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use."
 

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Week of August 24, 2006
Endocannabinoid System Protects Against Seizures, Study Says

August 24, 2006 - Mainz, Germany
Mainz, Germany: The endocannabinoid system provides "on demand" protection against experimentally induced seizures and neuronal cell death, according to preclinical data published this month in the journal Neuron.
Investigators at the Johannes Guttenberg University in Mainz and the Max Planck Institute in Munich reported that endocannabinoids, acting upon the brain's CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors, directly target hippocampal glutamatergic neurons to mediate against experimentally induced seizures and cell death in mice. "CB1 expression on hippocampal glutamatergic circuits accounts for this protection and might represent a suitable target for the treatment of neurological disorders associated with excessive neuronal excitation," authors concluded.
Separate preclinical studies have previously demonstrated that natural cannabinoids such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are neuroprotective against ethanol-induced cell death, cerebral infarction, and glutamate toxicity. Glutamate, a neurotransmitter, may be produced at toxic levels following strokes or severe head trauma often leading to irreversible brain damage.
In recent years, researchers have identified the endocannabinoid receptor system to be involved in the regulation of several primary biological functions including appetite, body temperature, mood elevation, blood pressure, bone density, embryonic implantation, learning capacity, and motor coordination.
 

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Renee Boje Legal Battle Finally Resolved



August 24, 2006 - Los Angeles, CA, USA
Los Angeles, CA: A US federal court judge has sentenced American expatriate Renee Boje to one year's probation, during which time she will be allowed to reside in Canada with her family.
The ruling concludes a nearly decade-long legal battle for Boje, who filed for refugee status in Canada in 1998 after US federal agents raided a marijuana cultivation operation at the home of cancer survivor and medical cannabis patient Todd McCormick, with whom Boje had a working relationship. Boje faced a potential 10-year federal sentence for her alleged role in the McCormick case.
Under the terms of a plea agreement struck between Boje and federal prosecutors, Boje pled guilty to minor marijuana possession and was sentenced on August 14 to one-year probation. She was allowed to return to Canada the following day, where she resides with her husband and three-year-old child.
Earlier this week, Canadian immigration officials granted Boje a 6-month visitors permit to remain in the country while she attempts to secure Canadian citizenship. Boje and US prosecutors had begun negotiations to end her legal fight after Boje was denied refugee status in Canada in 2005. Last June, Canadian Justice Minister Irving Colter ruled that Boje must turn herself over to federal authorities and face extradition to the United States. Lawyers for Boje had been appealing that decision, but were not optimistic that it would be overturned.
 

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California: Legislature Approves Hemp Cultivation Bill
August 24, 2006 - Sacramento, CA, USA
Sacramento, CA: The California legislature this week approved legislation recognizing industrial hemp as an "agricultural field crop" and establishing regulations governing its cultivation by state-authorized farmers. The bill, AB 1147 (The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act), now awaits final approval from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
Under the proposal, authorized farmers and researchers would be allowed to cultivate non-psychoactive varieties of cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC for industrial purposes, such as fiber content and seed stock. Farmers in Canada, the European Union and elsewhere currently grow hemp commercially as an agricultural commodity for a variety of consumer products, including food. According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, "The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop."
 

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Week of August 31, 2006

DEA Criticized For Financing Opposition To Colorado Marijuana Initiative
August 31, 2006 - Denver, CO, USA
Denver, CO: Colorado media outlets are roundly criticizing an effort by federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials to spend taxpayers' dollars and use paid staff time to campaign against Amendment 44, "the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative."
Correspondences from DEA officials seeking to hire a professional campaign manager to organize opposition to the initiative were cited by several Colorado media sources, including the Boulder Daily Camera and the Associated Press, on Monday.
Sponsored by Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), Amendment 44 would revise state statutes to make the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis legal in Colorado for anyone age 21 or older. Last year, voters in Denver passed a similar municipal initiative by 54 percent.
Several Colorado papers, including the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Aurora Daily Sun and Sentinel, immediately opined against the DEA's tactics, warning that taxpayers' funds should not be used to influence local elections. "Federal agencies ... have no business using their muscle to influence state ballot races," opined the Rocky Mountain News. "That's why we hope the DEA will abandon this campaign ­ and that next year, Congress will enact legislation that would prevent any federal agency from pursuing this sort of mischief."
While federal law prohibits using public resources to influence local partisan activities, US government officials are not forbidden from campaigning on non-partisan political issues. By contrast, Colorado law forbids state employees from using state resources to advocate for or against any political activity.
 

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Cannabinoids May Offer Novel Therapy For Cancer Pain
August 31, 2006 - Gainesville, FL, USA
Gainesville, FL: Natural and endogenous cannabinoids may offer therapeutic advantages over currently prescribed medications for the treatment of cancer pain, according to a scientific review published this month in the Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.
"Cannabinoid agonists have been described as having efficacy in nociceptive, neuropathic, and inflammatory pain states, all of which can commonly occur in cancer patients," the review's author states. "There are currently no pharmacological agents consistently effective against all three pain types, potentially giving cannabinoids a unique therapeutic advantage."
An estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of cancer patients experience some type of neuropathic pain, for which commercially available analgesics are not consistently effective.
Clinical trial data published in 2005 by GW Pharmaceuticals reported that cannabis extracts significantly reduced pain compared to placebo in 178 patients with advanced cancer pain.
Health Canada recently granted regulatory approval for the prescription use of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts, for the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with Multiple Sclerosis.
 

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Montana: Missoula Voters To Decide Pot "Deprioritization" Ordinance
August 31, 2006 - Missoula, MT, USA
Missoula, MT: Missoula county election officials confirmed last week that a municipal initiative that seeks to make marijuana law enforcement the city's "lowest priority" has been certified to appear on the November 2006 ballot.
Sponsored by Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy, Initiative 2 directs municipal police to make activities related to the investigation, citation, and/or arrest of adult cannabis users their lowest priority. It would also appoint a Community Oversight Committee to monitor police activity as it pertains to marijuana law enforcement. Seattle voters passed a similar proposal in 2003, which has led to a 75 percent reduction in citywide marijuana arrests.
Voters in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Santa Cruz, California will decide on similar "deprioitization" initiatives this fall.
 

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South Dakota: AG's Ballot Summary Is Prejudicial, Judge Rules
August 31, 2006 - Pierre, SD, USA
Pierre, SD: The state attorney general's description of a proposed ballot initiative to legalize the physician recommended use of cannabis is prejudicial and must be rewritten, a South Dakota Circuit Judge has determined.
As initially drafted, the state's summary of Initiated Measure 4 implied that "the attorney general wants voters to reject the initiative," Circuit Judge Max Gors ruled. "The attorney general should confine his politicking to the stump and leave his bias out of the ballot statement that is supposed to be objective."
The initiative, sponsored by South Dakotans for Safe Access, would allow state-qualified patients to possess up to six plants and/or one ounce of cannabis for medical purposes. Qualified patients must possess a physician's recommendation to use cannabis and must register with the state Department of Health. Non-registered patients, or those who possess greater quantities of cannabis than allowed under state law, would have the option of raising an 'affirmative defense' of medical necessity at trial.
Proponents of the measure criticized the attorney general's ballot explanation because it falsely stated that physicians who comply with the law would be subject to federal prosecution, among other issues.
Eleven states ­ Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington ­ have enacted similar laws. Eight of these did so by voter initiative.
 

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Week Of September 7, 2006



98 Percent Of All Domestically Eradicated Marijuana Is "Ditchweed," DEA Admits
September 7, 2006 - Washington, DC, USA

Washington, DC: More than 98 percent of all of the marijuana plants seized by law enforcement in the United States is feral hemp not cultivated cannabis, according to newly released data by the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program and the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.

According to the data, available online at: http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t4382005.pdf of the estimated 223 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2005, approximately 219 million were classified as "ditchweed," a term the agency uses to define "wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending." Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade.

Previous DEA reports have indicated that between 98 and 99 percent of all the marijuana plants eradicated by US law enforcement is ditchweed.

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre criticized the DEA program for spending millions of taxpayers' dollars to predominantly eradicate wild hemp. "The irony, of course, is that industrial hemp is grown legally throughout most the Western world as a commercial crop for its fiber content," he said. "Yet the US government is spending taxpayers' money to target and eradicate this same agricultural commodity."

According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, "The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop."

St. Pierre said that most of the hemp plants eradicated by law enforcement are remnants of US-government subsidized crops that existed prior to World War II. "Virtually all wild hemp goes unharvested and presents no legitimate threat to public safety," he said. "As such, it should be of no concern to the federal government or law enforcement."

According to DEA figures, Indiana reported seizing over 212 million ditchweed plants - far more than any other state. Missouri law enforcement confiscated some 4.5 million plants, and Kansas reported eradicating approximately 1.2 million plants. More than half of all states failed to report their ditchweed totals.

California led all 50 states in the number of cultivated cannabis plants eradicated in 2005, with the DEA reporting that more than 2 million plants had been destroyed.

The Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program is a joint federal and state effort funded, in part, by the DEA.

STATE LEADERS:
DITCHWEED ERADICATED (2005)
Indiana (212,441,768 plants confiscated)
Missouri (4,529,695 plants confiscated)
Kansas (1,177,976 plants confiscated)
Wisconsin (272,650 plants confiscated)
Oklahoma (100,736 plants confiscated)

STATE LEADERS:
CULTIVATED CANNABIS** ERADICATED (2005)
California (2,011,277 plants confiscated)
Kentucky (510,502 plants confiscated)
Tennessee (440,362 plants confiscated)
Hawaii (255,113 plants eradicated)
Washington (136,165 plants confiscated)

**DEA footnote: "May include 'tended' ditchweed."
 

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British And European Drug Regulators To Decide Approval Of Prescription Pot Spray

September 7, 2006 - Salisbury, United Kingdom

Salisbury, United Kingdom: Representatives of the British biotechnology firm GW Pharmaceuticals filed a request this week with European and UK drug regulators for approval of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts, for the symptomatic treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Sativex is currently available by prescription in Canada and on a limited basis in Spain and Great Britain for patients suffering from neuropathic pain, Multiple Sclerosis, and other conditions.

Regulators from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain, and the Netherlands will review the request, which includes clinical data on the use of Sativex in nearly 700 patients with MS. In clinical trials, Sativex has been demonstrated to alleviate numerous MS-associated symptoms compared to placebo, including pain, muscle spasms, and bladder incontinence.

British drug regulators will consult with officials from each of the three countries before rendering a decision. If the UK endorses the drug, it will receive simultaneous regulatory approval from all three nations.

GW officials initially sought to gain approval for Sativex in 2003, but were told by British drug regulators that further clinical evidence of the drug's efficacy was necessary before they would consider approving it for licensing in the UK.

Separate clinical trials investigating the use of Sativex for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain and cancer pain are ongoing.
 

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Week of September 13, 2006

New NORML Report Summarizes The Role of Cannabis in Moderating Disease Progression - - Review Of 120+ Recent Scientific Trials Reveals That In US, Politics Trumps Science
September 13, 2006 - Washington, DC, USA

Washington, DC: Recently published clinical and preclinical research on the therapeutic use of cannabis indicates that cannabinoids may curb the progression of various life-threatening diseases - in particular, autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) - according to a comprehensive new report published today by the NORML Foundation.

The NORML Foundation report summarizes over 120 recently published trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabinoids for the treatment of fifteen specific disease indications: Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, dystonia, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas, hepatitis C, hypertension, incontinence, osteoporosis, pruritis, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and Tourette's syndrome.

"Despite continued political debates regarding the recreational use of cannabis, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history," states the report's author, NORML Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano. "In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users. In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids."

Whereas initial clinical investigations into the therapeutic use of cannabis focused primarily on whether cannabinoids might provide symptomatic relief, investigators today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to inhibit the progression of several life-threatening diseases including cancer, Armentano says.

"Arguably, this latter trend represents far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago," he concludes. "Unfortunately, because of the US government¹s strong public policy stance against any use of marijuana, the bulk of this modern research is taking place outside the United States and continues to go unrecognized in North America. Nevertheless, the emerging body of clinical and preclinical work published over the past six years makes it clear that the US government's stance against the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids is based on politics, not science."
 

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Missouri: Federal Judge Limits Random Drug Testing Of Public Employees

September 13, 2006 - Jefferson City, MO, USA

Jefferson City, MO: A US federal court judge this week struck down the practice of random drug testing for the majority of Missouri's Department of Mental Health (DMH) employees, finding that the blanket policy violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches by the state.

US District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled Tuesday that the Department failed to demonstrate a "special need" to justify drug testing all of its employees without probable cause.

"In the end, DMH's decision to subject the Plaintiffs to random drug tests is nothing more than a 'gesture or symbol' that DMH does not approve of illegal drug use," she opined. "Every public employer has an interest in ensuring that its employees are not under the influence of illicit drugs. ... Because this interest is so pervasive, if it alone were enough to justify warrantless drug testing, the Fourth Amendment's protection for public employees would be meaningless."

The judge did uphold random drug testing as it applies to employees in state habilitation centers, determining that employees who work with this "particularly vulnerable" population may be subjected to stricter state scrutiny.

Approximately one-third of the state's 10,000 DMH employees would continue to be randomly drug tested under the ruling, said attorney Dan Viets, who brought the suit on behalf of Missouri NORML. "While the Court's order allows such testing under circumstances where there is a reason to suspect drug use, and of some employees of state habilitation centers, the most offensive and pervasive for of testing - random drug testing - has been permanently stopped by this order," he said.
 

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Week of September 21, 2006


Arkansas: Municipal Pot Initiative Certified For November Ballot
September 21, 2006 - Eureka Springs, AR, USA

Eureka Springs, AR: Eureka Springs city election officials confirmed this week that a municipal initiative that seeks to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses has been certified to appear on the November 2006 ballot.

Sponsored by the Fayetteville/University of Arkansas chapter of NORML, the proposal direct local law enforcement to issue a summons in lieu of a criminal arrest for adults found to be in possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and or marijuana paraphernalia.

Several municipalities - including most notably Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin - have enacted local decriminalization laws. Voters in Columbia, Missouri passed a similar ballot initiative in 2004 amending the city criminal code to depenalize the possession of marijuana and/or paraphernalia to a fine-only offense.

Voters in several cities - including Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica, California, as well as Missoula, Montana - will also decide on municipal ballot measures to liberalize marijuana possession laws this fall.
 

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Deterrent Effect Of Workplace Drug Testing Overstated, Study Says

September 21, 2006 - Irvine, CA, USA

Irvine, CA: Claims that workplace drug testing programs can dramatically reduce employee drug use are overstated, according to the findings of a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Health Services Research.

"Previous studies have interpreted the large negative correlation between workplace drug testing and employee substance use as representing a causal deterrent effect of drug testing," the study says. "Our results using more comprehensive data suggest that these estimates have been slightly overstated due to omitted variable bias" such as failure to account for other workplace programs (e.g., employee assistance programs) and/or whether employees who do not consume illicit drugs are more likely to work in environments that mandate drug testing.

Though the study did report a negative correlation between workplace drug testing and self reported monthly use of marijuana, the study did not conclude that workplace drug testing was necessarily associated with increased employee productivity or decreased accidents.

The study reported that US businesses spend an estimated $6 billion per year on employee drug testing programs.
 

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