Jul 7, 2009

Recent issue with herbal tea bought in Peru

Date: Wed, 01 Jul 2009 08:25:54-0600
To: p-all@lanl.gov
From: R. Douglas Fulton

Subject: Recent issue with herbal tea bought in Peru


Colleagues:

A P-Division employee recently returned from a trip to South America. At the conclusion of that trip some herbal tea was purchased in the duty free shop at the airport in Peru. The tea was made available for general consumption at the employee's workplace and at least one employee did consume the tea. That employee was chosen for a random drug test the next day and tested positive for cocaine metabolites.

The label on the tea stated that it contained Coca leaves and after laboratory testing, the tea was determined to contain cocaine in sufficient amounts to result in a positive test after consumption. A consultation between Occupational Medicine, Legal, Security, HR, and line management resulted in a determination that the employee could return to work with no disciplinary consequences.

If anyone is aware of the existence of this tea - or any other suspect substance - at work or at home, I recommend the following actions:
  • under no circumstances should you consume this tea or any other foods or beverages of unknown or suspect origin,
  • if you have this tea at home, dispose of it immediately,
  • if you are aware of the existence of this tea at work, collect all of it, notify line management, and transport it to Occupational Medicine (Dr. Sandra Scher is a good contact, 5-2647) for testing and disposal,
  • and finally, if you have consumed this tea, self report to your line management who can then arrange to accompany you to Occupational Medicine. Occupational Medicine will determine if a drug test is needed.
The policy that deals with these issues is P732 which can be found at

https://policy.lanl.gov/pods/policies.nsf/LookupDocNum/P732/$file/P732.pdf

I'll be available to answer any follow up questions that you have. Myunderstanding is that LANL is crafting a message to the entire Lab to warn people of the dangers associated with inadvertent exposures to drugs. In general, we should all know that while various food and drinks may be completely legal in other countries, if their consumption results in a positive drug test, their legality elsewhere is unlikely to be a mitigating factor. In short, be careful as to what you eat or
drink.


Doug


R. Douglas Fulton, Ph.D.
Division Leader
Physics Division
Mail Stop F621
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, NM 87544
Phone: 505-667-2652
Fax: 505-665-3644

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another suspicious food item has been recently found at local grocery stores which is suspected to cause positive drug test against opiates. The item is torus shaped, apparently manufactured using dough and includes suspicious small black seeds. It is mandatory to immediately notify line management, occupational medicine and the security division when encountering said item on lab property. HazMat teams will properly dispose of such food items to prevent further contamination of the workforce.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with herbal tea from Peru, I hope. I'm just posting it this way in the interest of timeliness.

This announcement went out to about a dozen LANL TSM's earlier this week. In the interest of ensuring a robust competition to select the very highest-quality postdocs for this new fellowship, I wanted to bring it to the attention of the wider community.

------

From: postdocprogram@lanl.gov
Mon, 06 Jul 2009 14:47:02 -0600
Subject: Reminder -Entrepreneurial Postdoc Fellow Appointment

This is a reminder that the deadline to submit a candidate package for the Entrepreneurial Postdoc Fellow appointment is July 21st! We
hope to receive a number of submissions!

Thank you!

_____________________________________________________________________________

Good afternoon!

Thank you for your interest in the development of a new Postdoctoral Fellow opportunity, the Entrepreneurial Postdoc Fellow. Many of you
attended one of the two informational sessions offered and for those who attended, you were extremely helpful in providing input and suggestions which we have incorporated into our launch materials.

Sponsored by the Postdoc Program Office in coordination with the Technology Transfer (TT) Division, this new postdoc category will provide the opportunity to collaborate with LANL scientists and engineers who are performing research in areas that have strong potential for commercial applications. Special emphasis will be given to projects which could create a new business start-up in Northern New Mexico.

In addition to conducting research with their identified LANL technical PI/mentor, recipients of these fellow appointments will interact with Technology Transfer (TT) Division staff on a regular basis. TT staff and partners will provide the unique training and hands-on experience in complementary components of the selected postdoc’s research regarding the technology commercialization process.

Appointments will be for two years, with the possibility of a third year extension. Current Laboratory postdocs who have been at the Laboratory two years or less are eligible to apply for this opportunity. A complete description of the program is attached.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a pilot of this program, and will be accepting applications for this fellowship opportunity during the August review cycle, with packages due to the Postdoc Office no later than July 21, 2009. As stated in the info sessions, the application package will include all of the information required for all postdoctoral appointment categories with the addition of a memo highlighting the qualifications of the candidate for this particular fellowship. The following is the documentation required:

Candidate Summary Form - all packages must be clearly marked as a EPD
submission

Nomination Memo

Additional Memo highlighting qualifications for the Entrepreneurial
Postdoc Fellow appointment

Research Proposal

Three Letters of Recommendations

CV

Citation Information

Transcripts

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to
contact either of us.

Thank you!

Mary Anne With, Postdoc Program Office

Belinda Padilla, Technology Transfer Division

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there is more to this story.

Did they try to fire the employee who drank the tea?

After "A consultation between Occupational Medicine, Legal, Security, HR, and line management resulted in a determination that the employee could return to work with no disciplinary consequences."

What about the employee who smuggled the cocaine into the country and introduced it into the workplace? The excuse that he didn't know it was cocaine is probably true and will probably keep him from ever being charged, but did the lab ever notify law enforcement of a possible crime?

And finally, if the employee mistakenly brought something into the country he shouldn't have, then he's probably a higher risk for taking something out of the country that he shouldn't....

Anonymous said...

Lame, lame, lame. Your taxpayers dollar at work. Helping make American a dumber nation.

Anonymous said...

Another fine example of how highly paid managers are keeping America safe. Is it time for another management award? Go LANS. Go LANS! Gooooooooo LAAAAANS!

Anonymous said...

"And finally, if the employee mistakenly brought something into the country he shouldn't have, then he's probably a higher risk for taking something out of the country that he shouldn't..."

He bought the tea at a duty free store at the airport. You *think* they would be selling legal items.

Duh.

Anonymous said...

Two questions: What is the name of this tea and where can I find it?

Anonymous said...

So is this tea legal in this country? The statement "the tea was determined to contain cocaine in sufficient amounts to result in a positive test after consumption." suggests that its primary fault is that it causes a positive test, not that it's necessarily illegal.

It's sad to see the emphasis on the "test," when the larger issue is whether or not the employee was actually under any influence. Mythbusters was pretty astounding to watch how poppy seeds triggered many commercial drug tests.

Anonymous said...

Watch carefully what you legally ingest. It could end your career at LANL. Perhaps it would be best to stick with just bread and water. Just make sure the bread has no poppy seeds on it.

Anonymous said...

He bought the tea at a duty free store at the airport. You *think* they would be selling legal items.

Well legal in the foreign country, for example as legal as Havana Cigars are, in the rest of the world and their respective duty free shops.

Anonymous said...

Red Bull, the drink, has been banned in Germany because of trace amounts of cocaine. Uh, oh! Don't they sell it at the cafeteria?

Anonymous said...

coca leaves are not cocaine and no one is getting high from it...NEXT...

Anonymous said...

Where can I find an importer so that LANL can sell these Peruvian tea bags in the lab cafeteria? I think I've just discovered an excellent method to reach next year's 5% attrition rate quickly and at minimal cost!

- MIKEY

John said...

I would also like to know the answer to 7/8/09 12:16 PM's question as to whether the tea is legal in this country. It's one thing for the lab to prohibit employees from committing illegal acts; it's entirely anther for it to prohibit employees from committing legal ones.

Our tax dollars at work. Hiring a bunch of security goons to make sure a bunch of PhD's don't drink the wrong kinds of tea. It will be a sad albeit funny day when all the PhD's are gone and the security goons are left pissing on each other.

Anonymous said...

John, and as others pointed out, there is a third aspect to the story: the substance is perfectly safe and legal anywhere but it triggers drug tests (e.g. poppy seed bagles or codeine in cough medicine).

Anonymous said...

It will be a sad albeit funny day when all the PhD's are gone and the security goons are left pissing on each other.

7/9/09 1:22 AM

Looks like you've finally discovered the NNSA/LANS plan for Los Alamos. Just remember, However, that NNSA will continue to pay to have these security goons piss on each other and that the PBI metrics will then reach 100%. NNSA will consider this to be a huge success!

Anonymous said...

Yes, codeine cough syrup is legal as long as you have a legit prescription. FYI, back in April, I was taking codeine cough medicine for bronchitis. I reported the med to HSR-2 (since I'm in HRP)and coincidentally, got called in for pee testing that week. The test came back positive, the HRP doctor called me to report my positive test and asked me more questions regarding the prescribing physician, etc. Nothing happened after that. The pee tests are looking for people who abuse narcotics illegally not take them legally for an illness and/or pain. Haven't we been through this discussion before under a different post?

Anonymous said...

Did a little web searching re: the legality of importing this coca tea into the US.

Importing coca leaves seems to be illegal unless you have a specific approval granted by the US Attorney General (see http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/csa/952.htm). Only one company in the US has this approval.

However...

Coca leaves can be de-cocainized by a process similar to decaffeination. Teas made from decocainized coca leaves ARE legal to bring into the US.

So... Was it high-octane coca tea, or was it decaf? Inquiring minds want to know!

Anonymous said...

I am on the P-div management team and I am here to tell you that Fulton does NOT have anyone's back in P-division. His immediate answer was "fire him!" Good thing the employee got a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

When Doug said, "Fire him!" did you mean fire the employee who bought the tea, or fire the employee who drank it and tested positive?

Anonymous said...

Doug is certainly interested only in Doug. I'm sure someday he'll be a fine LANS manager.

Anonymous said...

If you work at today's LANL, you would be wise to put aside some money every month for a lawyer. This Peruvian tea case should come as a warning.

LANL management will do nothing to protect their loyal employees once they have been targeted by LANS. The only thing they respect is a tough lawyer standing on the other side of the table. Without the defense a good lawyer you will be steam-rolled and dumped into the trash heap.

Anonymous said...

Division Leaders seem to be falling into two categories these days: the clueless, and the hopelessly risk-averse.

Both species are very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

7/11/09 7:56 AM - Division Leaders seem to be falling into two categories these days: the clueless, and the hopelessly risk-averse.

You could be stuck with Gene Peterson who is both clueless and risk averse and has his head shoved up Mary Neu's ass.

Anonymous said...

Got you beat 8:15, try having Gary Resnick. In addition to having said qualities, he has Neu's hand shoved up his ass and only want to make his momma AD happy. Damn the people in his division.

Anonymous said...

Division Leaders seem to be falling into two categories these days: the clueless, and the hopelessly risk-averse.

Both species are very dangerous.

7/11/09 7:56 AM

Bechtel has already filled many of the PAD and AD positions with their own managers. It's only a matter of time before the ranks of the Division Leaders and Group Leaders are populated with these same carpet-baggers.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to account for the reactionary tone of this memo without reference to abnormal psychology. There is no evidence of any bad intent on the part of those who enjoyed the tea. The only troublesome outcome was demonstrating that the drug tests cannot reliably distinguish innocuous food items from controlled substances. Why would one who "self-reports" having drunk this tea (the dramatic terminology is absurd) need to be escorted to Occupational Medicine for a drug test? Why would any organization publish a statement like, "...if their consumption results in a positive drug test, their legality elsewhere is unlikely to be a mitigating factor," knowing it would be indefensible before a jury in a wrongful termination suit? ("Your honor, I submit that LANS' policy is to terminate on the basis of a positive drug test alone, without consideration of its reliability.") The entire memo shows a resentful spirit that hints at a barely-concealed desire to harm others. I'm willing to give Mr. Fulton the benefit of the doubt by assuming the memo was ghost-written by some bitter security officer, but whoever did write it should "self-report" to a psychologist before they harm the institution.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh.... "self-report" signs you up for non-random drug testing and lots of quality time with Tom Locke.