Who drug tests?

Employers, parole officers, police, health insurance companies, the military and high school and college athletic coaches conduct drug tests. Many of these people are insensitive, unscrupulous and could care less about constitutional rights. Some are forced into drug testing, like coaches. Parents have pressured high school coaches to enforce their drug-free values at the expense of civil rights.

Below is a table derived from The American Management Association’s survey on workplace surveillance and medical testing, revealing alarmingly high rates of drug testing in the workplaces of many industries:

Industries That Drug Test Employees
Business Category Testing of New Hires Testing of All Employees
Financial Services 35.8% 18.8%
Business & Professional Services 36.0% 18.4%
Other Services 60.3% 34.7%
Wholesale & Retail 63.0% 36.8%
Manufacturing 78.5% 42.2%

Politics and ethics of drug testing

Many believe drug testing is an unreasonable search, and that it forces people to incriminate themselves, violating 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. The government pushed massive amounts of misinformation throughout communities and schools, and employers are well informed enough yet to dictate what drugs will harm the workplace and how.

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. Studies have shown that 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. 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.”

This article does carry sufficient statistical evidence. 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. If you test positive in California (without a prescription, of course), your driver’s 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). The U.S. Supreme court just ruled June 1995 that public high schools can require drug tests for all student athletes. Many high schools already do random searches on students; not for weapons, but for drugs.