NEWS: Anti-Drug Package In Tobacco Bill

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (
Fri, 12 Jun 1998 13:36:21 -0400

I don't remember it even being mentioned as a part of the tobacco bill - but then,
I don't really follow human press...

>Senate Okays Massive Anti-Drug Package In Tobacco Bill
> June 11, 1998, Washington, D.C.: The Senate narrowly approved an
>amendment to the tobacco-control bill on Tuesday that seeks to spend $16
>billion targeting and enhancing penalties against marijuana users.
>Amendment 2451, spearheaded by Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.), funds state
>efforts to "establish state registration programs" for convicted
>marijuana sellers, drug test teenage driver's license applicants, drug
>test junior high and high school students, allow law enforcement to check
>motorists for the presence of marijuana metabolites, and encourage small
>businesses to adopt drug-free workplace programs. The measure also
>amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 by prohibiting anyone convicted
>of a felony drug offense from receiving any student loan, grant, or work
> "These Republican-backed anti-drug measures treat otherwise law
>abiding marijuana smokers as if they were enemies of the state," said
>NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. "Tens of thousands of
>hard-working, productive citizens -- including many of the best and
>brightest college students -- would be unfairly penalized by these
>draconian proposals."
> Stroup called the provision to register convicted marijuana sellers
>especially disturbing. The amendment states that anyone "who is
>convicted of a criminal offense involving drug trafficking [must]
>register a current address with a designated state law enforcement agency
>for up to ten years following" the date of conviction or release from
>prison. The provision further says that the information collected under
>the registration program "may be disclosed for any purpose permitted
>under the laws of the state." Presently, several states have enacted
>similar registration laws for those individuals found guilty of
>committing sex offenses against children.
> Attorney Tanya Kangas, Director of Litigation for The NORML
>Foundation, said that many of the drug testing initiatives proposed by
>the amendment appear unworkable and may be unconstitutional.
>"Implementing federal legislation to give law enforcement the authority
>to screen for drug metabolites will violate privacy and search
>protections," she said. "Blood tests are excessively invasive; urine
>tests do not indicate impairment and cannot be collected consistent with
>constitutional standards for traffic stop searches. We can restrict
>people from driving while impaired without violating the Constitutional
>as this amendment proposes."
> The proposal mandates law enforcement to suspend the license of any
>driver who tests positive for drug metabolites. Marijuana metabolites
>may be present in urine for periods of 30 to 40 days after last use of
>the drug.
> Kangas also questioned the fairness of federally-encouraged
>suspicionless drug testing in schools and the workplace. Presently, the
>Supreme Court maintains that drug testing by the state without
>individualized suspicion is legal only if there exists "special needs,
>beyond the normal need for law enforcement."
> The provision denying federal student loan assistance to convicted
>marijuana felons is similar to a House amendment approved earlier this
>year. NORML National Campus Coordinator Aaron Wilson said that both
>pieces of legislation unfairly punish marijuana users. "It is outrageous
>that Congress would pass this law denying financial aid to students for
>non-violent drug offenses, while a felony conviction for a serious
>violent crime brings no such penalty," he said. "What kind of message is
>Congress sending?"
> Senators voted 52-46 for the anti-drug amendment, with all but two
>Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposed. The tobacco measure
>still needs approval from the Senate and the House.
> "Attaching this amendment to the tobacco-control bill is nothing more
>than a sneak attack by Republicans to escalate the war on marijuana
>smokers," Stroup said.
> For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul
>Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Alexander Chislenko <>
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