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 Louisiana Officials to Be Drug Tested Under New Law


September-October 1998

In Louisiana, four hundred elected officials will be drug tested next year, and eventually all 4,000 state officials will be tested, under a new state law (Louisiana Revised Statute, Title 42:1116.1). Each year, ten percent of state officials will be randomly tested, with the results kept private. Anyone testing positive must get counseling. Those testing positive repeatedly may have their names made public. The program will begin in January 1999 (Associated Press, "Challenges to Louisiana Drug-Testing Proposal Likely," Dallas Morning News, September 10, 1998; "Across the Nation: Louisiana," USA Today, September 10, 1998, p. 11A).

The 1997 law, passed at Governor Mike Foster's (R) urging, is initially aimed at drug testing of appointed and elected officials, employees, and welfare recipients . Welfare recipients are already being screened for possible testing, which is necessary because the state cannot test welfare recipients without reasonable suspicion of drug use. A screening of 2,600 welfare candidates produced fewer than 100 potential drug abusers. The screening was criticized by Foster, who vowed to implement drug testing to nearly 30,000 state welfare recipients ("Louisiana Governor Backs Unprecedented Drug Testing Plan Despite Costs, Legal Problems," NORML News Release, August 27, 1998).

On September 9, the Legislature approved rules and regulations governing the law, during which language was added demanding testing of anyone who receives an "economic benefit" from state government, which would include private attorneys, contractors, vendors, students, and others who do business with the state government.

The Louisiana ACLU filed a lawsuit in late September (O'Neill v. State of Louisiana, Civil Action No.: 98-2807), saying the law violates state and Federal constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. On October 1, the Legal Committee for the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed a similar complaint (Morrell v. Governor Mike Foster, Civil Action No.: 98-2870) (NORML Foundation, "Pair of Lawsuits Challenge New Louisiana Drug Testing Requirements," Press Release, October 1, 1998).

Governor Mike Foster - State Capitol, P.O. Box 94004, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004, Tel: (225) 342-7015, Fax: (225) 342-7099, E-mail: <>.

Louisiana ACLU - Joe Cook, Executive Director, P.O. Box 70496, New Orleans, LA 70172, Tel: (504) 522-0617.

NORML Legal Committee - Tanya Kangas, Director of Litigation, 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 710, Washington, DC 20036, Tel: (202) 483-8751, Fax: (202) 483-0057, E-mail: <>.