Drug tests for City Council members?

Asheville City Council’s interviews of potential colleagues on Tuesday may have an unintended offshoot — drug tests for Council members.

During the four interviews conducted on Dec. 9, Council member Carl Mumpower asked each interviewee if he or she was willing to submit to a criminal background check and drug test. All four candidates said they were, and Mumpower alter told Xpress that he has no intention or means to follow up on the question.

But the question did start a short conversation among Council members about whether they themselves should take such a test — a conversation they may pick up again soon.

Council member Jan Davis noted that city staff is already required to take drug tests, and that it may be only fair for Council to submit to the same standard, and there was talk of revisiting the topic at Council’s January retreat or during a meeting in the first part of 2009.

For his part, Mumpower said he has no intention of letting the issue slide, and wants a policy discussion on the matter.

“I think we should be a model,” Mumpower told Xpress. “If our employees have to do it, we should have to do it.”

— Brian Postelle, staff writer

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23 thoughts on “Drug tests for City Council members?

  1. If council is talking about urine tests than I assume they are only worried about whether or not people of Asheville smoke marijuana. Are they demanding we also test for cocaine, meth, opiates, alcoholism, over use of painkillers, anxiety drugs, etc.? Urine based drug tests are considerably lacking without going the gambit – and if the candidate is a true addict than their character should exhibit those personal faults without the council requiring their pee in a cup.

    The war on marijuana is a load of bunk and any claptrap drug czar that focuses on it as a dangerous illicit drug is wasting time and effort on more substantial issues. Billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year are destroyed due to old conservative lobbyist legislation left over from the 1930’s. Originally the law was put into practice as a means of controlling working class African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, but the social revolutions of the 1960’s certainly took the weed from the fringe and put it into the suburban home. Over 1/3 of modern Americans will readily admit that they have used marijuana, and that constitutes a large enough foundation to declare this law no longer has basis. Not to mention the US Constitution has no laws prohibiting the use of the herb, and thus each state and region should technically be able to define their own legislation on the issue. As any good Republican would agree, local laws carry more impact than federal government, and thus Asheville should be able to determine it’s own rights and laws when it comes to the plant and this era of community governance.

    Much of society is now on medication for anxiety and depression and people are turning more and more to potentially damaging pharmaceuticals instead of being able to use an abundant natural herbal plant. The most dangerous part about this plant is the fact that it is illegal – thus you don’t know what kind of crop you are getting and there is a potential for danger and uncertainty due to its lack of regulation. Many chronically ill people seek the green weed to assist them in being productive citizens, quite the contrary to reefer madness.

    President-elect Obama supports decriminalization and organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP.org) are leading the effort to allow medicated use of the plant state by state.

    “”Voters and legislators in the states – from California to Nevada to Maine – have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice – though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs.”

    NC’s tobacco crops have been falling substantially over the past decade and will only continue to do so as public health experts lobby the government against big tobacco company interests. In Buncombe county many private farmers have sold out their tobacco crops, and unless we find something new to farm we risk finding more value in building on our natural surfaces rather than keeping the land alive and productive, not to mention the potential water issues should we develop too much of our terrain. Many people know the quality of herbs we grow here are as good as any grown on the west coast region, and there is potential for a massive market to arise.

    Taxation and regulation of the plant make every bit more sense than prerogative driven urine tests for active members of the community. I would like to see how the city population when polled would feel about this plant and our local uses.

  2. BusGreg

    I won’t rehash the benefits of legalizing and taxing cannabis, or for that matter rethinking the entirety of the failed war on drugs. I would like to ask just one question.
    Have the fearmongering, lies and propaganda gone so far as to waste money on those who by association with government are responsible for the paranoia?

  3. “…and Mumpower alter told Xpress that….”

    Are you saying there’s more than one Mumpower or that he has a doppleganger?

    Or has your copy editor been drinking again?

  4. Bryan Freeborn

    With all that is going on in the economy and council’s failure to address public infrastructure capital needs, this is what they are going to spend even a minute on.

    I hope the Mayor can show some leadership and focus this herd of kittens.

  5. Well said, Jenny. It’s no wonder you didn’t get appointed THIS time. I hope you will be on that council eventually, if it’s something you’d still consider doing. I would volunteer to help you in whatever capacity.

  6. Ashevegasjoe

    The drug test is most likely a five-panel test (cocaine, marijuana, opiates, cyclobenzadrines, and mda/mdma). I am totally in favor of it. I think all federal and state employees have to take a urinalysis to be employed, so everyone in city, state, and federal seats should be tested too. Otherwise, don’t test any public workers. I want to see everyone in congress tested, as well as all judges and prosecutors, or the abolition of drug tests across the board.

  7. tatuaje

    I think all federal and state employees have to take a urinalysis to be employed

    I worked with the Forest Service for several years as a wildland firefighter….never had a single drug test. Of course I was always ‘seasonal’, but the ‘permanent’ employees didn’t have tests, either. The only people who got tested were the ones with CDLs. And then it was random every couple of months…

  8. Realty Check

    95% of employment drug tests need to work like an alcohol test. Are you under the influence right then … at work … influencing your productivity or safety. This .. have you ever … testing is Nanny State bunk. I would support massive employer drug testing if the tests were changed to that standard.

    On topic, if a public servant gets caught doing something stupid … like some local tourism directors have recently … then they would need to go. Do elected officials need to be held to a higher standard? Maybe so.

  9. Austin

    Smoking marijuana would probably help Carl with his perspective problem. Or who knows, it might take him further into his mania. Either way, if some is performing their duties, why would someone else care in ‘the land of the free’?

  10. Thinking about this in further detail, I completely agree with Carl’s perspective that if city staff is required to take drug tests than city officials should abide by the same logic of principle.

    However, seeing how Asheville should & can regulate its laws on its own community needs, I support abandoning any lawful action taken on city drug tests that only show trace matters of THC. Private use of alcohol and marijuana are inconsequential compared to a person’s more substantial work ethics, education, experience, and a personal drive to better our city.

  11. nuvue

    Exactly JBo, so what if they have had pot in the last month….But if they are drinking or smoking on the job that would be bad. I agree with Mums on this to a degree. Whats good for the goose…..

  12. shadmarsh

    Too bad Carl didn’t ask them if they ever had bought drugs on the street to make a self-righteous(and idiotic)point.

  13. vrede

    Under NC law one can be cited for driving while “impaired” regardless of a particular substance being identified. If a similar standard were applied to the City Council, would Mumpower retain his seat?

  14. Rob Close

    I’d like to see a surprise test on all city employees for Cocaine.

  15. What the heck is almompuff about???
    Is that some sort of german-spam that should be removed?

    Regardless – this is a good conversation that should be brought up again. Would the three new city council members pass such drug-tests? And should it remain regulatory for staff members but not council-folks to take drug tests?

  16. travelah

    I think the city council should be given drugs before every council meeting. That way they would not have to use their own on city time.

  17. vrede

    “I think the city council should be given drugs before every council meeting.”

    At least then they’d have an excuse…

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