Testing Drivers for Evidence of Marijuana Use is Difficult, Experts Say

It is very difficult to test whether a driver has been using marijuana. The reason is that the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, dissolves in fat, unlike alcohol, which dissolves in water, experts tell NPR.

“It’s really difficult to document drugged driving in a relevant way, [because of] the simple fact that THC is fat soluble,” said Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University. “That makes it absorbed in a very different way and much more difficult to relate behavior to, say, [blood] levels of THC or develop a breathalyzer.”

When a person drinks, alcohol spreads through the saliva and breath, and evenly saturates the lungs and blood, the article notes. That means measuring the volume of alcohol in one part of the body reliably indicates how much is in other parts, including the brain.

Full story of testing drivers for marijuana at drugfree.org

NCAA Chief Medical Officer Tries to Bring Changes to College Sports’ Drug Policies

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s chief medical officer is trying to implement new drug policies that would bring increased oversight and consistency. Currently there is a wide variety in approaches among schools in how they deal with drug policy infractions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For example, at the University of Florida, a player with a first-time steroid infraction would be benched for half the season, while the same infraction would cost a Texas A&M player only one game. At private schools such as Vanderbilt, drug-testing results are not shared with anyone, including the NCAA.

Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s first chief medical officer, wants to put the big five conferences, not individual schools, in charge of setting policy and testing for performance-enhancing drugs. He says when college teams conduct their own testing and give out their own punishments, it is an obvious conflict of interest. “The NCAA’s doping policy is outdated, and there needs to be more consistency among schools,” he told the newspaper. “There should be one policy and it should be transparent.”

Full story on the new changes to drug testing in college sports at drugfree.org

New Breath Test May Offer Alternative to Urine Drug Testing

Swedish researchers report they have developed a breath test that could be used as an alternative to urine drug testing. The test detects many drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to HealthDay.

Urine analysis, which is the most commonly used drug test, has been criticized as being inconvenient and a violation of privacy, the researchers note. The new breath test uses a highly sensitive method called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. It uses aerosol particles formed during breathing.

The researchers collected breath samples using a currently available breath test called SensAbues, which consists of a mouthpiece and micro-particle filter. When a person breathes into the mouthpiece, the device separates saliva and larger particles from the tiny particles that are measured. The micro-particles pass through and deposit onto a filter, which is sealed and stored. The particles are then analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Full story of breath test for drug testing at drugfree.org

Georgia Cannot Implement Drug Testing for Food Stamp Applicants and Recipients

Federal officials announced this week that Georgia cannot implement a new law that would require some food stamp applicants and recipients to undergo drug testing.

The law, passed in March, would have required testing when state workers had a “reasonable suspicion” the person was using drugs, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its policy “prohibits states from mandating drug testing of (food stamp) applicants and recipients.”

Full story of drug testing for food stamp applicants at drugfree.org

Marijuana Workers Wonder if Their Job Will Hinder Future Employment Prospects

Some workers in the marijuana industry in Colorado are wondering whether having a marijuana-related job will hamper future employment prospects, The Wall Street Journals reports.

“It just brings up whole other levels of conversation,” said Lisa Severy, Director of Career Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It’s an opportunity to see an industry grow, no pun intended, from the ground up,” she said. “But the question mark then becomes: Is there, in some people’s minds, a stigma about it?” She tells students to think ahead to where they ultimately want to work, and to consider whether they hope to land a job in a conservative industry. She reminds them they may be drug-tested when they start a new job, even though recreational marijuana is legal in the state.

Full story of marijuana and employment at drugfree.org