Stop the Presses: Casual Drug Users Have, Keep Jobs, Study Finds 11/2/01

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Casual drug users are just as likely to find employment and hold a job as non-users, according to researchers from the University of Miami, Florida. Casual drug users were defined as those persons who used drugs no more than once a week in the past year.

Based on data from the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the study found no statistically significant correlation between casual drug use and employment history. The researchers, led by Dr. Michael T. French of Miami's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, did find, however, that chronic drug use reduced a person's chance of finding and holding a job.

According to an abstract of the study, published in the October issue of the Southern Economic Review, researchers were interested in the efficacy of "workplace interventions" (i.e. drug testing) in addressing employers' concerns about workplace productivity, absenteeism, and safety. After reviewing the results of the research, French suggested that drug-testing and employer-based drug treatment programs would be more effective if focused on chronic drug users rather than all drug users.

"Workplace policies for illicit drug use should consider chronic or problem drug users apart from light or casual users," wrote French.

Such a prescription proved too much for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which finds any distinction between casual and problematic drug use intolerable. When queried by Reuters about the study's findings, ONDCP spokesman Rafeal Lemaitre resorted to bald assertions about all drug use being equal. "In terms of workplace accidents, it does not matter if the drug user is hard core or casual. The damage has been done," he said. "People who use drugs miss work, have lower productivity, and have accidents."

Unlike the Miami researchers, however, Lemaitre provided no numbers to back up his claim.

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Issue #209, 11/2/01 Editorial: Lessons Not Learned | Medical Marijuana Armageddon: Feds Declare War on California Buyers Clubs | Drug War Prisoner Given Solitary Confinement for Terror War Thought Crime | British Police Ask for Ecstasy Penalties to be Reduced as Drug War Collapse Continues | Colombia: Ambassador Patterson and Senator Graham Play the Terrorism Card | Border Smuggling Resumes After Temporary Post-September 11th Lull | New Jersey Amnesty International Chapter Puts US Drug Policy on International Human Rights Group's Agenda | Arkansas Drug Reformers on the Move -- Poll Shows Support for Medical Marijuana | Chapare, Bolivia: Increased Militarization Heightens Tensions in Coca-Growing Region | Stop the Presses: Casual Drug Users Have, Keep Jobs, Study Finds | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

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