“A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that insurance companies can be required to pay long-term disability benefits to a recovering drug addict if the person would face a significant risk of relapse by returning to work.” The First Circuit parted company with the Fourth, which has ruled the opposite way. [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog, subscription; Colby v. Union Security Insurance, PDF]
“The head of the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to legally challenge marijuana ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington.” It seems the U.S. is a signatory to a U.N.-drafted 1961 treaty under which nations agree to “adopt such measures as may be necessary to prevent the misuse of, and illicit traffic in, the leaves of the cannabis plant.” [Mike Riggs, Reason; Jacob Sullum]
“States with middle schools that conduct drug testing include Florida, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey and Texas,” as well as Pennsylvania, where the 12 year old girl in question was attending public school in Milford when subjected to the condition. [New York Times via Nick Gillespie, Reason]
From the comments: “Members of Congress, however, are not required to take such a test, as they work at less-critical tasks.” [ras]
And we’re not just talking the amateur meth kind. [Scott Greenfield]
“Government is just another word for the things we do together, like setting up staged drug buys at a concert venue, then arresting the venue’s owner, imprisoning him, and taking his property from him because he didn’t do enough to stop the staged drug buys.” [Radley Balko]
… can we have a heart-to-heart talk about some of what’s wrong with your new guidelines restricting employers from asking about job applicants’ criminal records? [Robin Shea] More: Diane Katz/Heritage, Ted Frank, Federalist Society podcast with Maurice Emsellem, Dominique Ludvikson and Dean Reuter, Brian Wolfman/Public Citizen (favorable to rules). Amy Alkon rounds up several more links, regarding which it should be noted that the EEOC has traditionally conceded an employer’s right to consider an embezzler’s rap sheet when filling a bookkeeping job — but not necessarily an axe-murderer’s rap sheet, since that’s not demonstrably “job-relevant.” Don’t you feel reassured now?
In related news, Roger Clegg reports that the House has passed a provision blocking EEOC enforcement of the guidance, which is encouraging as a preliminary matter; the Senate, however, is very likely to take a different position, and the rider will have no effect if the Senate view prevails. [NRO]
Another infuriating extension of asset forfeiture law. [Radley Balko, Huffington Post]
Ted Frank and Heather L. Finley of the Times-Georgian of west Georgia explain why.
A group called the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, with support from federal agencies SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), held a press conference yesterday to promote wider restrictions on the sale and use of helium, the familiar balloon-filling gas that as most people know will make one’s voice squeaky if inhaled. Although helium has low toxicity, it can pose dangers to the user, especially when inhaled directly from a pressurized container, the dangers “mostly related to the mechanical damage of introducing a highly compressed gas into your lungs,” as a doctor put it in a 1997 publication from NIPC (“Helium: Not a Laughing Matter”). The Washington Times reports on the coalition’s demands and quotes me for balance: “Small risk is worth knowing about, but it’s not worth rearranging our whole lives around.” It’s one thing to make sure kids know it’s unacceptably dangerous to breathe gases from pressurized containers, and another to make it unlawful for responsible 17-year-olds to pick up the balloon supplies for the family wedding.
P.S. Several readers wrote to say that because of current federal policy helium winds up artificially underpriced, encouraging its use for frivolous purposes; more on that here.