Linn State Technical College Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional: "Tired of The War on Drugs"

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson
Linn State Technical College cannot force all of its students to submit to mandatory drug testing, according to U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey, who sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in a decision on Friday.

"The lack of a substantial and real public safety risk alone compels the conclusion that the drug-testing policy is unconstitutional as applied to these students," reads the decision (on view below), which comes two years after the ACLU of Eastern Missouri first filed a lawsuit challenging the college's new mandatory drug tests for all incoming students. In March, a federal judge blocked the controversial policy through an injunction and has now ruled that the tests are largely unlawful.

The ACLU also estaimates that at least 450 of the 500 students who were forced to provide a specimen will receive refunds for the $50 they were each required to pay -- and their samples will have to be destroyed or returned.

See also: Is Missouri Wasting Taxpayer Dollars Drug Testing Welfare Recipients?

"Like most Americans, Missourians are tired of the War on Drugs and policies that assume that everyone is guilty of illegal drug use," Jeffrey Mittman, ACLU-EM executive director, says in a statement. "The court recognized that illusory safety concerns can be used 'to mask unconstitutional purposes.'"

Adds the group's legal director Tony Rothert, "Forcing students to provide urine samples violates their constitutional rights."

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Linn State

Daily RFT reached out to a college official and will update if we hear back. The Associated Press reports that an appeal in this case, which was filed on behalf of six students, is likely. Throughout this fight, the mid-Missouri institution has vigorously defended its policy, arguing that, given its technical focus, industry leaders support drug screening. The college is Missouri's only public two-year technical college with a statewide mission and has locations in Linn, Mexico and Jefferson City.

Why did it decide to drug screen students in the first place? From the college's explainer online:

The mission of LSTC is to prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning. Drug screening is becoming an increasingly important part of the world of work. It is also believed it will better provide a safe, healthy, and productive environment for everyone who learns and works at LSTC by detecting, preventing, and deterring drug use and abuse among students.

In a past statement on the lawsuit, Donald Claycomb, president of Linn State, which set up a legal defense fund for this fight, said: "We appreciate the number of people wanting to support us. Our industry advisors have guided us and supported us through this process and recognize that we're a small institution that's been brought into an expensive legal battle."

Marijuana is one of eleven drugs included in Linn State's screening program.

Laughrey's 62-page decision affirms that, with the exception of students in a handful of programs, the mandatory tests are unconstitutional.

The ruling, in line with the injunction, makes exceptions for a handful of programs, including aviation maintenance, electrical distribution systems, industrial electricity and power sports. The decision outlines some of the risks in these fields.

The ruling, however, notes that, more broadly, safety risks are not a concern that justify the testing:

Over the course of Linn State's fifty-year history, there has never been an accident on campus that resulted in death or substantial bodily injury. There have been accidents that have required some medical attention, but there is no evidence that drug use caused or contributed to any accident in Linn State's history.

Linn State does not have any greater prevalence of drug use among its students than any other college.

"Illusory safety concerns" cannot be used to mask unconstitutional purposes, the ruling says, adding: "Opening the door to expansive and widespread testing in this manner would significantly erode the protections of the Fourth Amendment."

Here's the full decision.

Linn State

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Martin Frisher, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Health Services Research at Keele University, et al., stated the following in their Sep. 2009 article titled "Assessing the Impact of Cannabis Use on Trends in Diagnosed Schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005," published inSchizophrenia Research:

"The results of this study indicate that the incidence and prevalence of diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses in general practice did not increase between 1996 and 2005...

This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders...

The most parsimonious explanation of the results reported here are that the schizophrenia/psychoses data presented here are valid and the causal models linking cannabis with schizophrenia/psychoses are not supported by this study."

Colin Blakemore, PhD, ScD, Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Oxford, wrote in a Dec. 27, 2002 email to

"It is conceivable that excessive use of cannabis sometimes contributes to acute schizophrenic episodes. But it is difficult to believe that cannabis is a strong risk factor for this disorder, because there is no evidence that the incidence of schizophrenia has risen dramatically over the past 50 years, in parallel with the huge increase in cannabis use.

 Young schizophrenic patients are often heavy cigarette smokers too, but no-one would suggest that tobacco causes schizophrenia."

Jason Schiffman, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, et al, reported in their article, "Symptoms of Schizotypy Precede Cannabis Use," published Mar. 30, 2005 in Psychiatric Research:

"The onset of schizotypal symptoms generally precedes the onset of cannabis use. The findings do not support a causal link between cannabis use and schizotypal traits." 

Lynn Zimmer, PhD, late Professor Emeritus at the Queens College, noted in her 1997 book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts:

"Given that the incidence of schizophrenia declined substantially in Western societies in the 1970s, at the same time cannabis use was rising, it seems highly unlikely that marijuana causes schizophrenia in otherwise healthy people.

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