Source: Herald, The (UK)
Pubdate: Wed, 9 Sep 1998
Author: Alun Buffry


IN your report, Drugs czar calls for testing of emergency staff, you say
that "Keith Hellawell has called on Scotland's emergency services to lead
the way in the anti- abuse war by introducing screening programmes in the

While appreciating the need to ensure that all workers are in a fit
condition to do their job, I have to wonder why Mr Hellawell and his bosses
are so keen to test almost everybody for illegal drugs. The only advantage
I can see to such a policy would be to sell more drug-testing kits.

Since the vast majority of these tests detect only cannabis, which could
have been absorbed weeks before or even only passively, the results are
clearly a waste of time and money.

Furthermore, all the official Government-sponsored studies into the effects
of cannabis conclude that it has no detrimental effect on either motor or
cognitive skills, yet relieves stress and tension. Even a test which did
show current intoxication would be no reason to punish the users.

Maybe it is the drugs czar himself who should be tested daily, in case
someone in his office building unwittingly caused him to passively inhale
the healing smoke of the cannabis plant which he has described as "evil".

Alun Buffry. Winter Road, Norwich.

- ---
Checked-by: Joel W. Johnson