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Texas unemployment drug testing targets cannabis consumers

drugtestingEffective September 1, 2013 if you’re looking to draw unemployment in Texas for certain fields of employment, that money your employer took out of your paycheck as mandated by the government, you’re going to have to pee in a cup in order to get it.

Senate Bill 21, would require some unemployment applicants to undergo a written screening for substance abuse, and if the written screening indicates likely drug use, the applicant would have to pass a drug test to receive benefits.

Both Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst championed the bill, which passed 104-42. Perry then signed the bill into law.

Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe sponsored the bill, saying “This bill takes a small but effective step in actually doing something good for both the individual applicant and society as a whole.”

States were banned from withholding benefits for reasons unrelated to job loss until Congress in February 2012 approved it for recipients going to work in certain industries.

Under current state law, the only way drug use can interfere with unemployment benefits is if the prospective recipient was fired from his or her last job because of drug use.

Under the legislation, the procedure would start with a questionnaire presented to those who seek work in fields that regularly test its employees — such as aviation, trucking and logistics. If that person failed the initial screening, which will be developed by the Texas Workforce Commission based on national guidelines, he or she would be administered the drug test.

The issue with drug testing is that it singles out cannabis consumers. While the majority of substances leave the body within 48 to 72 hours, cannabis, depending on usage and body fat, can leave traces in the body anywhere from a couple of days up to 45 days or so. This means that cannabis consumers are the ones most likely to get popped by these tests, effectively turning people towards more dangerous substances, including alcohol, which is not covered under the bill. Even worse, it causes people to turn to very dangerous substances such as K2 and Spice, who some term as synthetic marijuana even though it is nothing like cannabis.

Another issue to be touched on is funding, considering that similar measures in other states have ended up costing far more than was saved, all while enriching various drug testing companies with tax payer dollars

By: Stephen Carter
Stephen can be reached by email at TXCann@gmail.com

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas and serves as Deputy Director for NORML of Waco. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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