SAPAA Conference 2014

Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association – SAPAA Conference 2014

… The 2014 SAPAA Conference was held September 24 through September 26, 2014, at the Marriott in historic downtown Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederate Government during the Civil War.  There were approximately 300 attendees to listen to well-known speakers and experts in their respective field in the world of substance abuse.  And of course old acquaintances were renewed.

The exhibitors did an impressive job of presenting their various products which were well received by the attendees.  There were exhibits by some of the accredited labs, hair and oral fluid testing labs, on-site testing devices, Medical Review Officers, breath alcohol and oral fluid alcohol testing manufactures, companies offering SAP services, companies offering training products along with third party service providers and drug testing software providers.

Bill Current presented his annual industry survey with some enlightening information about the state of the drug testing industry.  Bill is a well-known drug testing industry consultant and an excellent speaker.

Ms. Patrice Kelly did an excellent job of presenting the perspective from DOT and the latest there.  She emphasized the importance of Medial Review Officers to contact the pharmacies and/or prescribing physicians to confirm prescriptions as presented by individuals with a non-negative drug test.  As taken from guidance issued by DOT/ODAPC:

1. Call the pharmacy to verify the legitimacy of the prescription; and
2. Call the donor’s treating physician if you have suspicions or questions

Another very important note from Ms. Kelly, was that Courts and Administrative Law Judges cannot overturn MRO verified test result.  The DOT modal agencies were available for individual breakout sessions that afternoon, all of which were well attended.  There was very valuable information shared between the attendees and the representative of the different Modal Agencies.

Dr. Janine Cook, of the Division of Workplace Programs at SAMHSA, gave an excellent talk on the Epidemiology of Prescription Drug Abuse with tons of data being presented.  She was followed by Dr. David Kuntz who gave a great talk on Designer Cannabis and Cathinone compounds.

Other interesting presentations in this writers view was one by Mr. Michael L, Brown on Emerging Issues and Trends in Driving Under the Influence of drugs.  That one made me stop and wonder if it is safe to drive anymore!

Dr. Barry Sample and Faye Caldwell discussed the State of the Union on the topic of when is marijuana a street drug versus medicine.  That is still a very interesting and highly evolving topic as more states lean towards allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes and other states go further in allowing the use of marijuana for recreational use.

One of the highlights was Mr. Peter Bensinger, former US Drug Enforcement Administrator, who gave a talk on the Politics around Medical Marijuana and Legalization Initiatives.  This talk was received a standing ovation.

Dr. Stuart Hoffman and Dr. Abraham Hammell gave a very entertaining presentation on the history and mystery of cocaine.  At the end of this presentation, we learned things about cocaine that we may not have known before but perhaps were afraid to ask.

As I look forward to the next SAPAA Conference to be held in Houston, TX, I wonder what will the state of drug testing be and what new advances will there be as the world of drug and alcohol testing in the corporate world and what will the clashes be with marijuana initiatives.

The next topic will be a return to the Electronic CCF and the current status.  If there are suggestions for topics to be discussed within the drug and alcohol testing realm, please email myself or Joe Reilly.  My email address is and Joe’s is

SAPAA Members range from the new and inexperienced to the seasoned professional in various capacities, which principally include: 

  • Owners and managers of private substance abuse testing firms.
  • Directors of substance abuse programs in the corporate sector.
  • Coordinators of substance abuse programs in medical facilities.
  • Representatives of industry service providers, such as testing laboratories and equipment manufacturers, MROs and collectors.
  • Government officials from agencies that have interest in the area of substance abuse detection.


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