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February 2024

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QISD Considers Increased Drug Testing of Athletes

QUESTA, N.M. — The Questa Independent School District (QISD) Board deliberated their drug-testing policy for student athletes and came to a decision to increase their random testing of athletes from 25% to 33%. The initial proposal called for raising the drug-testing to 50% of athletes.

While the board decided to advance a measure that would increase the drug testing of student athletes, the measure also calls on lessening restrictions on athletes caught using substances, allowing athletes who test positive for drug-use to practice with their teams rather than be barred from athletics altogether.

Superintendent John Maldonado reported the past total cost of drug-testing 25% of student athletes was about $735. Drug-testing is conducted three times during the school year — in the fall, winter, and spring.

While recent studies have shown that schools with drug-testing for extra-curricular activities report less drug-use overall than schools without drug-testing, the board expressed concern over the students who may be left behind as a result of drug-testing.

“I don’t want kids to just give up because all they had to look forward to was sports, and now they don’t even have that,” said Board President Jason Rael. “I think we should also take into account that they’re not adults.” He called a complete ban from sports as an “adult solution to a juvenile problem.”

Board Member Juan Cisneros partially agreed, and advocated for leniency for initial violations of the policy and more punitive measures on subsequent violations.

Superintendent Maldonado, speaking optimistically about student athletes, agreed with Cisneros. “We don’t have a big issue where there’s a tremendous amount of players [using drugs],” said Maldonado. “Out of a team of about 10, we may lose one… most of our kids are fine.”

During this school board meeting, there was only one substance specifically mentioned in regards to the policy on mandatory drug-testing: marajuana.

A negative stigma remains around the use of marijuana, while currently marijuana is legal in 37 states for medicinal use and legal in 22 states for recreational use, New Mexico’s legalization of recreational marijuana only went into effect in 2022, the drug remains illegal for anyone under 21. The school board still needs to pass a second reading of this measure in an upcoming school board meeting.
A recording of the 2/1 QISD Board meeting is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_UcRtC3D3s&t=2382s

“The Effectiveness of Mandatory-Random Student Drug Testing, Institute of Education Sciences (4/25/2010), https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104025/index.asp.

“Cannabis and Athletic Performance,” National Institutes of Health (2021), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8566388/.

“Esports Ecosystem in 2023: Key industry companies, viewership growth trends, and market revenue stats,” Insider Intelligence (1/1/2023), https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/esports-ecosystem-market-report/.

Esports, New Mexico Activities Association, https://www.nmact.org/activities/esports/.