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Duma adopts law on narcotic drug tests for schoolchildren and students

May 15, 2013, 23:23 UTC+3

Experts say that there are about 2.5 million drug addicts in Russia

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MOSCOW, May 15 (Itar-Tass) - The State Duma adopted a law on narcotic drug tests for schoolchildren and students in the final reading on Wednesday, May 15.

The law creates a system for early detection of use of drug and specifies grounds and procedures for taking necessary actions. It says that tests and examinations will take place “with the written informed consent of students who have reached the age of 15 or with the consent of their parents (representatives in law) if children are under the age of 15.”

Grigory Balykhin of United Russia, a member of the Duma Committee of Education and former head of the Federal Agency for Education, said that “such tests have been used in some regions for several years, for example, Tatarstan has been testing since 2006 not only schoolchildren but also students. This practice has also been used in test mode by the Rostov, Stavropol and Pskov regions and Moscow.”

If a schoolchild or student is found to be using or suspected of using narcotic drugs, he will be referred to a specialised medical organisation that provides healthcare services in the respective field. If a person is over the age of 15, this procedure will require his informed consent. If a person is under the age of 15, consent will have to be obtained from his parents or representatives in law.

“Social and psychological testing will take place in the form of conversation and tests and after that all those who have given their consent will be tested by medics suing modern equipment,” Deputy Education and Science Minister Alexander Klimov said.

He stressed that the results of tests will not be disclosed.

The document determines the powers of the federal and regional authorities in preventing non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

The draft law says that early detection of non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances includes social-psychological testing of pupils in educational institutions and preventive medical checkups for them.

The document also sets forth the competencies of educational institutions for ensuring early detection of non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances among pupils by way of social-psychological tests.

The law is to enter into force six months after official publication.

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) chief Viktor Ivanov said he would not insist on mandatory drug tests for schoolchildren.

“I see no need for mandatory testing for everyone in schools and universities,” Ivanov said earlier.

“However if the parents care about their under-age child, they should have a technical and medical possibility to receive reliable information” he added.

Ivanov believes more attention should be paid to rehabilitation and socialisation of drug addicts. “The task is to deploy a rational system of comprehensive rehabilitation because testing all by itself will not help one get rid of addiction,” he said.

The results of drug tests taken by schoolchildren will be intended for their parents only, Ivanov said.

“It is important to explain to people, primarily to parents, that this information is intended for them and fro them only,” he said.

The results of drug tests are not intended either for teachers or schoolmates, let alone drug police, Ivanov said.

Russia's chief narcologist, Prof. Yevgeny Bryun said earlier that the testing would be part of the annual medical examination and would “expose all disorders related to addiction.” Testing will begin from the age of 13.

According to statistics cited by Bryun, there are 30,000 registered drug addicts in Moscow and 1.5 million people who have tried narcotics at least once.

Teenagers use mainly cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, and hallucinogens. Ninety percent of officially registered drug addicts use heroin.

Bryun believes that it would take more than two years to create the system of voluntary drug testing. “If the situation does not stabilise, we will go over to mandatory testing,” he said.

Experts say that there are about 2.5 million drug addicts in Russia. About 600,000 drug users are registered at medical facilities.

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