AFTER the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB)-initiated random drug testing (RDT) among high school students last year, another round of similar tests will be conducted starting next month.

DDB Vice Chairman Clarence Paul Oaminal yesterday announced that this time, at least 10,000 college students in public and private schools nationwide will be subjected to the tests.

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The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and Department of Health are the DDB’s partners in implementing this program, aimed at reducing the rising trend of illegal drug use among young people.

DDB records showed that a total of 72 high school students tested positive for drug use during last year’s RDT covering the period from February to December.

Of this figure, 70 were positive for marijuana and only two for shabu.

Cebu users

In Cebu alone, at least four were positively screened for marijuana use out of the more than 1,000 students, Oaminal said. Only 10 students were subjected to the RDT per school.

Oaminal said the test results only showed that marijuana remains the top choice among young students because of its accessibility and affordability.

He lamented that the youths have been tricked into believing about the myth that this hemp is a medicinal plant with no ill effects to the users, he added.

Visiting former DDB chairman Vicente “Tito” Sotto III dared those who have been trumpeting about the medicinal value of marijuana to show proof.

“I challenge them to show empirical data,” said Sotto, who graced the DDB multi-sectoral meeting at an uptown restaurant yesterday.

Sotto also took potshots at the reported proposal of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to legalize the taxation of cannabis use.

“If that pushes through, he will live up to his name as terminator…terminator of the youth,” said Sotto apparently referring to the Hollywood-action-star-turned-politician’s blockbuster movie.

Ill-effects

The former senator said the youth should be thoroughly informed about the real ill-effects of marijuana through an intensified drug information awareness drive in school and work places.

He said that civic awareness and response are one of the factors to fight the drug menace.

Sotto also urged all the establishments to conduct their own RDT in compliance with the national government’s drug-free work place program.

He expressed concern over the rising incidence of drug use and HIV among call center workers.

The RA 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, mandates all establishments with at least 10 employees to conduct the RDT among their employees.