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A Wrench in the ONDCP’s Drug Testing Machine

The Drug Czar’s office has been hosting a series of Drug Testing Summits in select cities to push its profitable random drug testing regime in schools. Fortunately, despite constant claims of success (May 9 entry), their propaganda has not been given without opposition.
For those who don’t know, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is a fabulous organization of committed students, and they’ve been on the case.
Tom Angell and Ross Wilson of the SSDP attended the Summit in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Our objective was simple: prevent the ONDCP from being
able to present itself as all-knowing and authoritative on the topic of
student drug testing in front of an audience of open-minded educators and
school officials who are rightly concerned with preventing substance abuse
among their students.

They brought handouts that countered the propaganda and got involved in the discussions.
Here’s some more of Tom’s report:

Reformers should be aware that the ONDCP has fully adopted rhetoric about
drug abuse as a public health problem. Since it is a pediatric onset
communicable disease (like tuberculosis), they say, we must test young
people. They claim that testing is nonpunitive and confidential and that
they just want to be able to identify those that need help.

But testing students who want to participate in extracurricular activities
only deters students who do use drugs from joining the activities in the
first place because they don’t want to be tested. In this way, the stated
aim of drug testing is undermined because the very students who ONDCP says
they want to help won’t be identified since they aren’t putting themselves
in the position of being tested.

Ross asked a question to this effect and got a complete nonanswer from a
researcher at Ball St. University (who conducted one of the three studies
commonly cited by ONDCP). The educators in the audience must have
noticed.

Earlier in the day, when deputy drug czar Mary Ann Solberg finished her
opening remarks, I followed members of the media (who were following her)
into the ONDCP’s press room. Before she began taking questions, I
announced to the room that if any members of the press wanted to hear from
opponents of drug testing they could talk with me to learn SSDP’s
perspective. All of them immediately raised their hands and expressed
interest in talking to me after the depty drug czar finished. So I sat
down, interested to hear how she was going to answer reporters’ questions.
But as soon as I did, two gentlemen from the ONDCP asked me to leave the
room because, apparently, only credentialed reporters were allowed there.
So I left and waited in the hallway.

As journalists trickled out of the ONDCP’s interview room, each came up to
me, very interested in what I had to say about the topic. I ended up
doing interviews with two television network affiliates, the two largest
papers in Pittsburgh, a smaller community paper, a college paper, and a
radio news broadcast that is syndicated on 13 stations.

Read this article and imagine how it would have been reported had Tom not been there to provide counter info.
Great job, Tom!

At
the conclusion of the summit, an official from the Department of Education
asked how many folks were thinking of taking advantage of the federal
grant money that’s been made available for student drug testing. Only
five or six people in the room raised their hands.

If anyone’s available, or already planning on attending the summit in Portland on Wednesday, please get in touch with Tom to strategize.

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