Archive for June, 2010

111 Percent Increase in ER Visits Involving Nonmedical Use of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 2004 to 2008, the estimated number of emergency department visits linked to the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers rose from 144,644 visits to 305,885 visits a year.
Visits to hospital emergency departments involving nonmedical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers more than doubled, rising 111 percent, between 2004 and 2008, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study used data from SAMHSA

DEA, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Seize $45 Million of Illegal Drugs

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Los Angeles Field Division and San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops announced the seizure of approximately 2750 pounds of cocaine, 67 pounds of methamphetamine and 38,000 pounds of marijuana following the traffic stop of a tractor-trailer in San Bernardino County, California.
The tractor-trailer was carrying a shipment of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana with an estimated street value of approximately $45 million dollars. The driver, Fernando Luevano, age 32, from Fontana, was arrested and booked at the Central Detention Center for Possession, Transportation and Sales of Narcotics. His bail is set at $5,000,000 and he is scheduled for arraignment on Friday, June 25, 2010 in Rancho Superior Court in San Bernardino, California.

Does a positive urine test for marijuana indicate that a person was impaired at the time of the test?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Detection of total THC metabolites in urine only indicates prior THC exposure. Detection time is well past the window of intoxication and impairment. Published excretion data from controlled clinical studies may provide a reference for evaluating urine cannabinoid concentrations however, these data are generally reflective of occasional marijuana use rather than heavy, chronic marijuana exposure. It can take as long as 4 hours for THC to appear in the urine at concentrations sufficient to trigger an immunoassay (at 50 ng/mL) following smoking. Positive test results generally indicate use within 1-3 days however, the detection window could be significantly longer following heavy, chronic use. Following single doses of Marinol

Walmart Fires Michigan Man for Using Medical Marjuana

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

From WZZM13.com: Now that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, can an employer fire a worker who tests positive for the drug?

WalMart says it can, so it did. “I was terminated because I failed a drug screening,” says former WalMart employee Joseph Casias.

In 2008, Casias was the Associate Of The Year at the WalMart store in Battle Creek, despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

At his doctor’s recommendation, Casias says he legally uses medical marijuana to ease his pain.

“It helps tremendously,” he says. “I only use it to stop the pain. To make me feel more comfortable and active as a person.”

During his five years at WalMart, Casias says he went to work every day, determined to be the best.

“I gave them everything,” he says. “110 percent every day. Anything they asked me to do I did. More than they asked me to do. 12 to 14 hours a day.”

But last November, Casias sprained his knee at work. Marijuana was detected in his system during the routine drug screening that follows all workplace injuries. Casias showed WalMart managers his state medical marijuana card, but he was fired anyway.

“I was told they do not accept or honor my medical marijuana card,” says Casias.

In an e-mail from headquarters, WalMart spokesman Greg Rossiter explained the company policy. It states: “In states, such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen. We believe our policy complies with the law and we support decisions based on the policy.”

Casias says he never used marijuana before work.

“No, I never came to work under the influence, never,” he says. “I don’t think it’s fair. Because I have a medical condition I can’t work and provide for my family?”

Casias has been collecting unemployment compensation since he was fired in November but this week he says he was notified WalMart is challenging his eligibility for benefits.

Early Alcohol Use Relates to Dependence Later

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

In a recent study of 8th and 10th-grade drinking and drug use habits in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers discovered that the greater the amounts of alcohol consumed and the early age at which the use starts directly relates to alcohol dependence and other problems later in life.

Researchers probed and identified indicators associated with risk and protective factors for 505,668 8th- and 10th-grade students. 65.3% of the respondents were white, 12.3% black, and 11.1% Hispanic. 51.5% of the respondents were girls. Drinking was defined as having five or more drinks over the course of an episode of drinking.

Compared to white students, black students had significant lower risk for heavy drinking with an odds ratio of 0.71. Hispanic students had a noticeably higher risk for heavy drinking at a ratio of 1:16. Factors considered as abetting drinking and increasing risk were cutting of class, a belief that friends get drunk and use drugs, more nights out during the week without parents present, perceived pressure to drink or use drugs, freer access to alcohol, risk-taking and aggressive behavior, and tobacco or marijuana use. Preventative factors included better school grades, personal disapproval of heavy drinking, perceived risks associated with heavy drinking, and high levels of self-esteem.

In a prior Monitoring the Future Survey that covered 2003-2007, 4% of 8th graders and 8% of 10th graders reported one episode of heavy drinking during the past two weeks; further, 6% of 8th graders, 14% of 10th-grade boys, and 12% of 10th-grade girls reported two or more episodes of drinking.

Is an employer considered to be in compliance with Part 40 if Evidential Breath Tests are not available within 30 minutes of an alcohol screening test location?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

An employer is not considered to be in compliance if an EBT is not available for use within 30 minutes to confirm the screening test.
However, there may exist unusual circumstances (e.g., post-accident testing) in which an EBT is not available within the appropriate time frame. In such a case, the employer would not be considered out of compliance with the regulation if documentation exists showing a

Oregon Joins Washington and Hawaii in Restricting the Use of Credit Information in the Employment Decision

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

On March 29, 2010, Oregon Governor Kulongoski signed legislation (S.B. 1045) that specifically prohibits employers from using credit history in making hiring, discharge, promotion, and compensation decisions unless the applicant or employee is given advanced written notice and the credit history is substantially related to the position sought. The legislation provides additional exceptions for financial institutions and public safety offices. Although the proposed legislation was to be effective July 1, 2010, the Governor declared the legislation effective immediately.

Oregon now joins Washington and Hawaii in requiring relatedness between the credit history and the position sought before an employer can use such information in making employment decisions. There is also pending legislation in Illinois that recently passed the House of Representatives, which would impose similar restrictions.

At the federal level, H.R. 3149 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Known as the “Equal Employment for All Act,” it seeks to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions. This bill is currently in committee; however passage of laws in Oregon and other states may drive further interest in this bill at the federal level. In addition, independent of this federal legislation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently taken particular interest in the use of credit checks in employment decisions.

After the laboratory reports a test result, someone (e.g., the employer, a service agent) discovers that the CCF listed the wrong reason for the test (e.g., the CCF says the test was a pre-employment test when it was actually a random test). How is this corrected and by whom?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

This is another example of an error that does not have a significant adverse effect on the right of an employee to have a fair and accurate test (see

Vodka Eyeballing

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

According to the San Diego Headlines Examiner, “Vodka Eyeballing” has become a fad in San Diego for teenagers and it has local authorities concerned.

Vodka Eyeballing, also known as an eye shot, is when you tilt back your head and pour vodka into one of your eyes straight from the bottle. It first originated in the UK and gained popularity on the internet and is now trending in San Diego.

“Young adults seem to be doing this as part of a dare or a quick way to get drunk. It can actually burn the cornea right off your eye,” John Richardson, a Substance Abuse Counselor told 10News.

Many are claiming that vodka eyeballing can get you drunk faster than drinking because it passes through the mucous membrane and enters the bloodstream through the veins at the back of the eye.

Mike Gimbel, a Substance Abuse counselor says that kids are doing it as more of a prank, than a way to become more intoxicated.

“It probably could cause blindness if it caused severe enough scarring of the cornea,” says Robert Stutman, president of the Maryland Optometric Association.

“At 40 percent pure ethanol, vodka in the eye would create inflammation and thrombosis (clotting of the blood vessels) such that very little alcohol would be absorbed. Unlike the stomach, the eye does not have a gastrointestinal lining to protect it and aid absorption,” said Professor Robin Touquet a consultant at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Vodka works as a paint stripper on your eye, and it can cause permanent damage as it can burn and scar the cornea. The trend may have already hit its peak, though, as videos on youtube.com are now trending toward vodka snorting.

May the MRO report an

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

No. An MRO must not report tests results until and unless he or she has received all required information from the collection site and laboratory.
This means the MRO must have Copy 2 or a legible copy of Copy 2 (or any legible copy of a CCF page signed by the employee) and must have the drug test result (sent in the appropriate manners for negatives and non-negatives) from the laboratory.
An MRO sending