Posted in drug screening, drug testing policy, drug tests
In a move that goes against its former drug-policies, the NCAA may be tightening the reins for college athletes who utilize performance-enhancing drugs, while simultaneously lessening the consequences for those players that utilize recreational drugs such as marijuana and opiates.
The NCAA drug testing website currently states, “The NCAA shares the responsibility of promoting a drug-free athletics environment with its member institutions to protect the health of student-athletes and preserve fair competition.”
However, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports is considering changing its policy on recreational drugs by “focus[ing] on educational programs instead of a traditional testing model.” The programs would include intervention and behavioral management programs, as well as “drug testing at the campus level,” though it is not specified how that testing would differ from the testing that the NCAA previously — and currently — is conducting.
“It is our hope the proposed model will address drug deterrence in the most effective way to change behavior,” said Committee Chair and Harvard’s Head Athletic Trainer Brant Berkstresser. “We feel that the NCAA should be focused on drug testing for those substances that may provide an unfair performance advantages.”
Athletes are currently tested for performance-enhancing drugs at least once a year.
Previously, recreational drug testing has not been shown to be much of a deterrent. The NCAA has been conducting drug tests on its student athletes for both performance-enhancing and recreational drugs since 1986, and in that time, it has not seen an overall decrease in positive drug tests.
In a news release, the committee stated, “Use of recreational drugs should absolutely be discouraged … but because they do not provide a competitive advantage, alternative approaches to testing should be developed.”
The release also said that those who are penalized for recreational drug use by losing their eligibility to play are more likely to drop out of school; however, allowing athletes to skirt the consequences of their actions provides another, perhaps unintended, lesson to those students.
photo credit: source via photopin (license)
Posted in drug tests, Federal law
On the heels of several deaths and hospitalizations in Louisiana, for which synthetic marijuana usage is suspect, at least six compounds used in the production of synthetic marijuana have been banned by Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals. Three of those compounds have also been banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Synthetic drugs have proven to be a devastating element in our communities,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson. “Public safety officials must remain proactive in removing these dangerous drugs from our streets[…].”
The compounds that have been banned in Louisiana are PX 1, PX 2 and MDMB-CHMICA.
“PX 1, PX 2 and MDMB-CHMICA are new drugs that are already suspected in multiple deaths and numerous hospitalizations in Louisiana,” said La. Poison Control Director Dr. Mark Ryan.
In addition, the following compounds have been banned in Louisiana and nationwide, as well as being added to the DEA’s list of Schedule 1 Controlled Dangerous Substances:
- methyl 2-(1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indole-3-carboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoate
These three compounds were placed on the list for being “an imminent hazard to the public safety.”
“It’s important for consumers to know that all synthetic marijuana can be dangerous,” said Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. “Drug makers change the compounds as soon as we ban them, so the versions sold in retail stores aren’t necessarily safe.”
Synthetic cannabinoids were reported in the U.S. for the first time in 2009.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, drugs in the workplace
As states consider passing laws that allow for legal marijuana usage — and in the few states in which pot is already legal — some confusion may crop up for employers. There may be questions like, if the state allows for legal usage of the drug, are you as an employer still allowed to enforce a no-tolerance drug policy? Do your employees have rights when it comes to using cannabis — or being under the influence — in the workplace?
Because the law varies from state to state, the answers can be confusing at best. In fact, Colorado has formed a state Drug Oversight Committee to help answer questions such as these. Here are some of the Committee’s recommendations, as well as items to consider for your particular state.
1) Find out what your rights are as an employer. Colorado still allows employers to enforce zero-tolerance drug policies, and does not require employers to accommodate those who use marijuana legally. Employers may fire employees after a first failed drug test, even if the only thing the employee tests positive for is THC. The Committee states that most Colorado employers should not have to change their drug policies at all.
2) Make sure your policies are in writing, are filed with your human resources department, and are available to employees. Employees should know the rules of the company, what the policies are for drug testing (whether random, only after accidents, upon hiring, etc.) and what the consequences are if one fails a drug test. These policies should be distributed to employees upon hiring, and/or should be included in employee handbooks or on a computer network where employees can view it.
3) Keep up-to-date on legalization efforts, laws and bans in your state. Some states have laws regarding zero-tolerance drug policies, and instead require employees who test positive for drugs to be offered a chance to enter a rehab program for a first infraction, rather than immediate termination. Make sure your HR department keeps an eye on both your city and state legislative bodies, so you’ll understand the law as it applies to your business. Then, if there are any changes to the law, its enforcement, or users’ rights, you’ll be able to update your policies accordingly.
4) If you update your policies, make sure your employees know what changes have been made. This is just a good HR practice. It’s not fair to employees to change the standards of the company without informing them that expectations have changed. Plus, it may reduce the risk of litigation against the company in the future.
What tips would you add to this list?
Photo source: flickr
Posted in drug and alcohol testing, drug screening, drugs in the workplace, employee drug screening, pre-employment drug tests
When employers conduct pre-employment drug tests or enforce random drug testing, they typically have to hire a drug testing service or work with a local clinic to get results. However, new technologies from healthcare company Scanadu may eventually make pre-employment drug testing as simple as checking your phone.
Scanadu has introduced a device that may change not only the healthcare industry, but also how employers conduct drug tests. The device, called Scanaflo, is a urinalysis test kit that utilizes an iPhone app to scan used strips. The app differentiates colors on the strip that indicate the composition of the sample.
While the Scanaflo is currently only being marketed toward those who want or need to regularly monitor their health at home — such as pregnant women and the elderly — Scanadu co-founder Sam De Brouwer has noted that there may be opportunities for this device to be used for drug testing in the future.
Should a drug testing service choose to use this device as part of its service, the person conducting the tests would use his or her phone to scan the used strips. The phone app would immediately provide feedback regarding various chemical levels in the urine.
While organizations may see this as an opportunity to conduct urine tests on their own instead of hiring a drug testing service for screening, businesses should take caution. Drug testing laws vary state by state, and companies would be wise to continue working with these services in order to ensure they do not violate their employees’ rights or break any state or federal laws. (A few months back, nine employees in Ohio sued their employer — to the tune of $2.25 million — for violating their constitutional rights by subjecting the employees to “random” screening that seemingly only targeted one type of job within the organization.) Due to the complexity and fluidity of employment law, employers should continue to work with screening services whose job it is to keep up to date on the legalities.
This technology has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Scanadu is hopeful that it will get the proper certifications from the FDA by the end of the year.
Image via 9to5Mac
Posted in credit checks
According to Comcast’s corporate policy, customers signing up for their service must undergo credit reporting inquiries in order to begin service, or else pay a $50 fee to have this requirement waived.
Chicago resident Keith Santangelo signed up for Internet service, but told Comcast through an online chat feature on its website that he refused to provide them authorization to run his credit report. He paid the $50 fee instead. In a class-action lawsuit filed at the end of January, Santangelo says that Comcast took the money, but ran his credit report anyway, which is illegal under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The suit accuses the cable and internet service provider of conducting credit checks on several of its subscribers that chose to pay the $50 fee in order to avoid credit checks, based on its customer service forum. The plaintiff claims that Comcast pulling his consumer report lowered his credit score.
The case attorneys have stated that it’s possible that thousands of Comcast subscribers have been subject to unauthorized credit checks.
It is unclear why the company would need to review customers’ credit reports in order to provide service.
Comcast has declined to comment on the lawsuit.
photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc
Posted in drug screening, drug testing for welfare recipients, drug tests, welfare drug testing
Three years ago, Maine passed legislation that would require all welfare recipients to undergo drug tests in order to receive benefits. However, in all this time, the drug-testing program was not rolled out, as the state’s attorney general had yet to approve the plan.
However, in mid-January, the attorney general finally approved the program, provided the Department of Health and Human Services make some changes to the plan. One such change requires applicants of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program fill out a questionnaire that may help determine if applicants are likely to be taking illegal drugs.
The questionnaire is an effort to avoid the types of lawsuits that have been plaguing welfare programs in other states. (Florida’s welfare policy was rejected outright in a federal appeals court after all welfare applicants were required to pay for their own drug tests. The Maine drug tests are expected to cost $62 per person, presumably paid for by the DHHS.)
The questionnaire will ask applicants if they have been convicted of any drug-related felonies; if they have, they will be required to undergo drug tests. If an applicant fails the drug test, he or she may still be eligible for welfare if they get assistance through a rehabilitation or substance abuse program.
Welfare drug testing programs have not proven to be very effective. Other states that have unveiled similar programs — such as Tennesee and Utah — have found that only 1 to 2 percent of those applying for welfare benefits have tested positive for illegal substances.
Maine’s DHHS plans to begin drug-testing welfare applicants, but is not sure when they will get started.
Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB
Mind Your Business is delighted to be participating in West Carolina University’s MBA Strategic Management project this spring. By enrolling in this program, WCU Business Administration graduate students will get the chance to conduct research and write business analyses with real-world business examples.
This project is intended to provide MBA students with the knowledge and skills to effectively complete research regarding a company’s background, competitors and industry trends, and provide analysis for future market strategies, as well as existing internal performance. The students will have the opportunity to use a real business — MYB — as a case study, and in return they will provide MYB with their results, which will be beneficial to MYB’s operation.
The program will have two major components, which students will have to report on: Competitive Intelligence (CI) research, and Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM). The CI report will provide information on business threats and opportunities, and will allow students to work with investigative software and other business tools. The SEAM analysis will explore MYB’s past behavior and structure, with the intention of improving business performance.
As the students complete each segment of the project, MYB will receive these reports, including the full CI analysis, and a diagnostic report of any challenges and opportunities that MYB should address. It will also receive a proposal of specific, measurable actions that can be taken to improve the company’s social and economic standing.
We’re incredibly excited for this opportunity to engage with our local talent at WCU. This experience and the results will undoubtedly play a valuable role in driving our business forward, as well as prepare these graduate students for a future in business management.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, employee drug screening
Northern Ireland’s government has just approved a new drug-testing technology that the country’s Roads Safety Minister hopes will prevent residents from driving under the influence of drugs.
The portable device, called Drugwipe, can detect cocaine or marijuana in the body. It utilizes small amounts of saliva, and produces results in eight minutes or fewer. Drugwipe analyzes the saliva and indicates the presence of drugs via lines on the device that resemble those on a pregnancy test.
U.K. law enforcement intends to use Drugwipe on traffic stops when officers suspect drivers of operating their vehicles under the influence. If the test proves positive for drug usage, the driver will be taken to the police station for a blood sample.
“Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of innocent pedestrians, motorists and their passengers,” said Policing Minister Mike Penning.
A device by the same name is used in the United States in some police departments, prisons, and drug-testing facilities. That device is said to determine the presence of not only cannabis and cocaine, but also methamphetamines, amphetamines, opiates and other drugs by testing saliva, sweat, or even vehicle surfaces. Drugwipe is said to be more than 95 percent accurate in detecting the presence of illegal drugs.
Image via Alcolock
Posted in Department of Labor, employment
January’s unemployment rates and new job creation were little changed from December’s numbers, according to a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The only demographic that saw an increase in its unemployment rate was teen workers. While the unemployment rate remained steady overall at about 5.7 percent, January saw 257,000 new jobs added.
Those 257,000 jobs include positions in retail, health care, financial services and select other industries. Retail trade saw 46,000 new jobs in January, with jobs coming primarily through non-store retailers, vehicle and parts dealers, and stores that sell books, music, and sporting goods.
The construction industry added 39,000 jobs, with the majority of the positions available in commercial and residential building. Health care saw similar gains (38,000 new jobs), with the bulk due to hospital and doctors’ office staffing.
Professional services and food services saw gains of 33,000 and 35,000 jobs respectively, while financial services gained 26,000 new jobs, mainly in the insurance and investing markets. Mining, government, trade and transportation all saw little change from December, though the manufacturing workweek increased to 41 hours per week.
In addition, the number of discouraged workers dropped over the previous 12 months, from 837,000 people in January 2014 to 682,000 last month. Discouraged workers are individuals that are not looking for work because they do not believe they have job opportunities.
The report also stated that its previous numbers for November and December 2014 have been revised, and that 147,000 more jobs were created than previously reported during those months.
Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB, small business
Thanks to Mind Your Business’ acceptance into the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program, a few members of the MYB staff had the opportunity to attend the National 8(a) Winter Conference at the beginning of February.
The conference took place in Orlando, Fla., and included seminars on how best to navigate frequently changing policies, ways to compete with larger businesses, and effectively marketing a small business.
MYB staff members Mary Ray and Pamela Peak were in attendance, as was MYB CEO Karen Caruso. More than 500 attendees were expected to be at the conference, as well as 85 of the SBA’s Liasion Officers.
Leaders from law firms and federal agencies had the chance to speak to the attendees about securing contracts and how they decide which federal contractors to hire. Ray, Peak and Caruso had the opportunity to hear presentations from individuals such as Ron Perry, the President of the National 8(a) Association; Anthony Briggs, the Small Business Program Manager at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Lee Rosenburg, Director for Small Business Programs at the Missile Defense Agency.
Breakout sessions covered such subjects as “How to Effectively Team on a Federal Project,” “Small Business Support: Financing, Infrastructure Support and Tips on Business Development for the 8(a),” “Working With the Department of Health and Human Services” and “Affiliation Issues in Small Business Contracting: Structure Your Proposal and Relationships for Success.”
MYB’s representatives also had time to participate in networking events, and visit with vendors on the exhibition floor.
MYB was accepted into the SBA 8(a) program in January 2013. The program is designed to help small businesses compete with larger businesses for federal contracts, and to participate in the U.S. economy.
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