Pubdate: Sat, 11 Jan 2003
Source: Hull Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Northcliffe Newspapers Group Ltd
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance,
Bookmark: (drug testing)


The chairman of the Hull and East Riding Legalise Cannabis Alliance today 
warned against launching a major new work-place drugs policy in the county. 
Carl Wagner, of Ella Street, West Hull, is urging East Riding councillors 
not to rubber stamp plans to randomly test hundreds of frontline staff who 
work for the local authority - as well as thousands of others whose 
performance "may be impaired by drugs or alcohol."

Personell officer Zoe Martin said a workplace drugs policy, which would 
affect more than 15,000 employees, has been agreed in principle but has yet 
to be voted on by members and implemented.

The move would be a first for East Riding Council, the country's largest 
unitary authority. Chief executive Darryl Stephenson and all 66 councillors 
could be amongst those tested under the system.

Council leaders claim the controversial measure would be a safety net for 
the public.

But Mr Wagner said evidence provided by drug tests was unreliable and could 
have serious consequences for workers and their families. Mr Wagner said: 
Drug testing in the workplace is a sinister extension to the misguided 'war 
on drugs', and represents a gross invasion of an individual's privacy.

"Whether or not drug use impacts on workplace performance, drug testing is 
a poor solution because drug tests do not measure impairment. "Rather than 
looking for drugs, drug tests look for metabolites - by-products which are 
excreted from the body hours, days or even weeks after a drug was ingested. 
As a result, drug tests mainly identify drug users who may have used a drug 
at the weekend, but are not under the influence of a drug when at work or 
when tested.

"Workplace drug testing is an expensive and demeaning method of 
surveillance rather than a safety net for workers or the public, and the 
profiteers will be the usual suspects - the lawyers, the drug testing 
industry, and the ever increasing drug enforcement agencies who's pay and 
advancement depend on getting more and more people into treatment." "I hope 
those councillors who can think of better ways to spend tax payers money 
have the courage to oppose this tyranny."

But Councillor Symon Fraser, joint chairman of the council's reduced crime 
review and scrutiny commitee, said the move was not "a draconian attitude 
towards people."

Councillor Fraser, who represents the Driffield and Rural ward, said: "Our 
main concern is where someones performance could pose a risk to the 
public." Councillor Bob Tress, who represents South Hunsley ward said: This 
is an important safety net for workers and the public."

A spokesman for East Riding Council said: "The Government has requested 
that all large organisations have procedures in place for drug and alcohol 
testing. So far, no policy for this has been agreed by the council."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens