3 Fire cadets test positive for pot

2 firefighters resign after refusing drug test

Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Claudio K. Norita, center, announces the results of the mandatory drug test for DFEMS personnel in the CNMI as DFEMS spokesman Derek Gersonde listens during a press conference yesterday afternoon. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Three Saipan cadets of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services tested positive for marijuana use, while two of the island’s personnel refused the mandatory drug test, according to DFEMS Commissioner Claudio K. Norita yesterday.

Norita disclosed in a press conference that DFEMS did a drug test in November and December in 2017 and this month on all their personnel in the CNMI, including himself, in compliance with Public Law 18-47, the Mandatory Drug Testing Act of 2013.

For Saipan, the department tested over 93 personnel and 36 cadets last Nov. 20 and 21.

Two DFEMS personnel refused to undergo the test, opting instead to just resign from the department, Norita said.

Of the three cadets who tested positive for marijuana use, one resigned and two were terminated, Norita said.

Cadets are required to undergo a drug test before they enter the academy and the 36 did that with negative results, he said.

“Four weeks after, we caught three of the 36,” he added.

On Rota, 11 personnel were tested last Dec. 8 and the results turned out all negative.

On Tinian, 16 personnel were tested last Wednesday and the results were all negative.

DFEMS did the same test in 2016: 11 were positive for marijuana and five were positive for methamphetamine or “ice,” Norita said. Of all those 16, one resigned and the rest were given suspensions, he added. For marijuana use, the suspension lasted 30 days; for “ice,” the suspension was for 60 days.

Norita said those who tested positive were required to undergo drug counseling and then return to work.

Those who tested positive were also required to underg a random drug test five months after that and, if positive again, it’s termination for them.

The commissioner said the two personnel from Saipan who refused to undergo the test last November were part of the original 16 who tested positive in 2016.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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