02-09-2007, 09:57 PM
Quote:Washington, DC: The Bush administration has requested significant increases in federal funding to randomly drug test student athletes and pay for public service announcements (PSAs) urging teens to avoid marijuana.
According to budget requests, the White House is demanding $130 million in 2008 to fund the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, an increase of 31 percent over current funding levels. Studies of the campaign, which has spent over $2 billion in federal monies and matching funds since its inception in 1998, have consistently found that teens most exposed to the advertisements are more likely to try pot than their peers.
"It appears that ... anti-marijuana public statement announcements used in national anti-drug campaigns in the US produce immediate effects [that are the] opposite [of those] intended by the creators of the campaign," Texas State University investigators reported last year in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
White House officials have also requested $17.9 million dollars in 2008 to pay for the implementation of random drug testing programs for students who participate in competitive extra-curricular activities.
Since 2005, the Education Department has appropriated more than $20 million to various school districts to pay for random drug testing programs. Federal grant funds may not be used to pay for separate drug education and/or prevention curricula, nor may any funds be used to train school staff officials on how to implement drug testing. Only federal investigators are eligible to review data collected by the school programs, which will be evaluated as part of a forthcoming federal assessment of the efficacy of random drug testing to deter illicit student drug use.
A previous evaluation of student drug testing programs conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded, "Drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use." Investigators collected data from 894 schools and 94,000 students and found that at every grade level studied -- 8, 10, and 12 -- students reported using illicit drugs at virtually identical rates in schools that drug tested versus those that did not.
To date, an estimated five percent of schools randomly drug test student athletes, and only two percent of schools test students who participate in extra-curricular activities other than athletics. As a result, the White House is sponsoring a series of regional summits this spring to encourage middle school and high school administrators to implement federally sponsored drug testing. The 2007 summits are scheduled to take place in Newark, New Jersey (February 27), Honolulu, Hawaii (March 27), and Las Vegas, Nevada (April 24).
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.