Some weekly news by Norml

September 29, 2008

Survey: One In Five High Schools Drug Test Students

September 25, 2008 – Washington, DC

Washington, DC: An estimated one in five high schools and one in ten middle schools engage in some form of student drug testing – including random testing, according to survey data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in the fall issue of Strategies for Success, a newsletter of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

“Findings indicate that the number of schools conducting … drug testing may be [approximately] 4,000 – more than double the highest estimates cited previously,” the ONDCP reported.

In all, 14.6 percent of all public and private middle schools and high schools now conduct some type of student drug testing, the CDC’s School Health Policies and Programs study found. Slightly more than 50 percent of these schools reported conducted random drug testing among specific groups of students.

Of the schools that drug test, 84 percent utilize urinalysis – a method that detects the presence of inactive drug metabolites, but does not have the ability to determine recent drug use or impairment. Fifteen percent of schools employ hair follicle testing, the study reported. Eight percent use saliva testing, and three percent use sweat patch testing technology.

Of the drugs screened for, 86 percent of schools test for the presence of marijuana. By contrast, 75 percent of school drug testing programs screen for cocaine, 50 percent screen for alcohol, and fewer than 20 percent test for nicotine.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on School Health resolved, “There is little evidence of the effectiveness of school-based drug testing,” and warned that students subjected to random testing programs may experience “an increase in known risk factors for drug use.” The Academy also warned that school-based drug testing programs could decrease student involvement in extracurricular activities and undermine trust between pupils and educators.

A 2003 cross-sectional study of national student drug testing programs previously reported, “Drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use.”

A 2007 prospective randomized clinical trial also reported that students who underwent random drug testing did not differ in their self-reported drug use compared to students at neighboring schools who were not enrolled in drug testing programs.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director.


Text Messaging Impacts Psychomotor Skills Far More Than Cannabis, Study Says

September 25, 2008 – London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom: Sending text messages from one’s mobile phone impairs motorists’ ability to drive a car to a far greater degree than does smoking cannabis, according to the findings of a study published this week by Britain’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and reported by Reuters news wire.

Seventeen volunteers age 18 to 24 years old participated in the driving simulator study.

“The reaction times of people texting as they drove fell by 35 percent, while those who had consumed the legal limit of alcohol, or taken cannabis, fell by 21 percent and 12 percent respectively,” Reuters reported.

The study also found that drivers’ ability to maintain lane position and headway with the vehicle in front of them was more adversely impacted by texting than by the influence of marijuana.

Currently, five US states have enacted laws prohibiting text messaging while driving. By contrast, fifteen states have enacted laws criminally prohibiting drivers from operating a vehicle with trace levels of cannabis or inactive cannabis metabolites in their blood or urine.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention reported that in terms of overall driving performance, subjects under the influence of cannabis performed in a manner comparable to motorists with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director. NORML’s white paper, “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review,” —


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