Politics and ethics of drug testing
(I'll keep this brief, this is not a position paper)
I believe drug testing is an unreasonable search, and that it forces people to incriminate themselves. Many who take the same position believe drug testing violates the 4th and 5th amendments. The counter argument is that the Constitution doesn't apply to private organizations.
It comes down to these values. An employer's right to know who s/he is hiring stands in conflict with an individual's right to privacy. I wrote this paper because I value the right to privacy more. I also believe people SHOULD have the right to consume any substance they want [without limits] given that they are knowledgeable about that chemical. Employers, like anyone, have been effected by the Reafer Madness Movement. The government pushed massive amounts of misinformation throughout communities and schools, and I don't believe that employers are well informed enough yet to dictate what drugs will harm the workplace.
The only effective way to select workers is to evaluate their performance on the job. Drugs can actually improve performance. Aspirin relieves pain, allowing a worker to continue. Marijuana (when consumed on the job) makes repetitive factory oriented work more interesting, which lengthens a workers attention span. Marijuana will actually make some people more alert. After intensive testing, someone I know can solve the Rubix Cube 20 seconds faster when stoned. (not scientific proof, yet interesting). Stimulants will keep workers productive at the end of long work days. If the negative effects of drug use begin to show in the worker's performance, their employer has a number of options for dealing with it.
Phil Smith summarizes an article in March 1990 Scientific American:
[The article] suggested that workers who tested positive for marijuana only: 1) cost less in health insurance benefits; 2) had a higher than average rate of promotion; 3) exhibited less absenteeism; and 4) were fired for cause less often than workers who did not test positive. Since marijuana is the most common illicit drug used by adults, and the one detected in up to 90 percent of all "positive" drug tests (half of which are false), this fact has radical implications for current public and employer policies.
I could hardly believe what I was reading, but this article did carry sufficient statistical evidence. I see greater negative effects in drug testing than in drug use. In my opinion, drug testing is un-American because guilt is assumed until the test proves innocence. Our current conservative totalitarian Congress is extremely irresponsible, and the peoples' civil liberties are suffering. This particular privacy violation costs businesses \\$1.2 billion a year for urinalysis of their workers. The military is notorious for their strict drug tests. (note that marijuana helped soldiers in times of war). If you test positive in California, your drivers license is automatically suspended for 6 months.
Nightbyrd has "counseled several, very straight, elderly workers - close to retirement - who were fired and lost their pension benefits because they 'failed their drug test'" (Jeff Nightbyrd). Bernard Williams of the Philadelphia Eagles failed the drug test for marijuana. He was suspended from the NFL for six games for using a drug that doesn't enhance performance. If anything, marijuana would detract from an athletes performance. Let the coach judge Williams performance.
Now it's becoming popular for parents to drug test their children. Perfect; let's break up the families; cut down those lines of communication and sneak around spying on our kids. Let's violate the child's privacy. We use DARE like the salem witch hunts - to get children to turn their parents. Now with DrugAlert, parents have a weapon to use on their kids.
The U.S. Supreme court just ruled June 1995 that public high schools can require drug test for all student athletes. Many high schools already do random searches on students; not for weapons, but for drugs. After all, the Constitution has failed to protect children in the classroom, why not expand? Students have lost 1st, 4th, and 5th amendment rights, and I think it's absurd. We have patriotic history teachers telling children of their Constitutional rights, yet children aren't given these rights on campus. Kids get kicked out of school for questioning rules that violate the Constitution.