Government Mandated Drug Testing Is Wrong

Since the laws governing use and sale of marijuana have been largely ignored, our government found other ways to punish those they could not catch and prosecute. They coerce employers into bypassing the need for a warrant to search a person by mandating drug testing as a condition of employment. For the government to randomly test people for drug use, drug testing would be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, but by the government mandating that all businesses that do business with the federal government, drug test as a condition of employment, they get away with forcing us to submit to drug testing or being punished through denied employment. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone or want to encourage drug use on the job, but the urine test for marijuana does not determine if a person is under the influence, only that they have used marijuana in the last few days. Saliva tests for detecting marijuana are a much better determination of the tested person actually being under the influence than a urine test. The saliva test detects marijuana use from 2 to 24 hours while the urine test detects marijuana metabolites up to 30 days or more in chronic users. There is actually a urine test for alcohol that can tell if a person has had a drink in the last 80 hours, but no one seems interested in using that test, except the probation or parole authorities. I really don’t care what employers want to do as far as drug testing. Employers should be able to determine what is acceptable behavior in their employees. If they want to prohibit alcohol, drugs, tobacco use or even obesity, it is fine with me. What bothers me is for the federal government to mandate drug testing through legislation, as a way to punish those they can’t catch and prosecute. Denied employment punishes the whole family. If the only way to tell if a person has used marijuana is to send their urine to a lab, is the marijuana use really a problem?

The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice study of drug testing in the workplace, indicates that significant benefits are achieved through random and post accident drug testing of individuals such as increased productivity, lower accident rates and lower absenteeism. What is not clear from the study, is how much marijuana use influences those statistics when in aggregate with alcohol and other illicit drugs. It is also worth noting that all the people conducting the study, work in the drug testing field as professionals, although they all signed a no conflict of interest declaration.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation study, Drug Testing In The Workplace  by The Independent Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work drew starkly different results. Among their conclusions are that alcohol is likely a much stronger influence on job safety than illegal drugs and there is no justification for drug testing in the workplace as a means of policing the private behavior of employees. It also points out that many factors have an impact on safety and productivity such as bad working conditions, sleeping and health problems, excessive workloads and work-related stress. It also points out the flaws in workplace drug testing such as drug testing is not an indicator of current intoxication and that empowering employers to investigate and punish private behavior is in conflict with liberal-democratic values.

While I think we can all agree that people working under the influence of drugs can be a hazard not only to themselves but also others. Tests that indicate a person being under the influence would be a much better way to police unwanted activity in the workplace.

Randy Johnson

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