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New Drug Testing Policy

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins/Released)

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins/Released)

BALTIMORE -- The Maryland National Guard has instituted a new drug testing policy.

Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, the Adjutant General for the Maryland National Guard, recently sent out a memorandum detailing the policy.

The biggest change is the expansion of the policy that will test for a variety of prescription drugs in addition to illegal substances. The Department of Defense already tests urine samples for the opiates codeine and morphine. Beginning May 1, 2012, all military drug testing will also test for hydrocodone and benzodiazepine, chemicals found in pain killers and anti-anxiety medications. The testing is not an all-out ban of the substances. Airmen with prescriptions for the drugs will not be subject to disciplinary action for using them during the dosage and time prescribed.

Service members using prescription medications without a valid prescription or in a manner not prescribed by their health care provider are encouraged to voluntarily seek medical treatment and/or rehabilitation on a self-referral basis prior to the initiation of increased testing for these drugs.

In addition to the expanded list, Adkins spelled out other requirements of the drug testing policy. The Maryland Air National Guard is required to test five percent monthly or 13 percent quarterly of the total strength of the unit.  In addition, the policy requires commanders to read it to members on a quarterly basis and post on unit bulletin boards.