What is the deal with drug testing?

On any given day, almost any working person, can be approached out of nowhere by their boss or supervisor and told to immediately report to a collections site to provide a urine sample. Refuse - you are fired. Fail you are fired. Make a fuss you are fired. Drug testing on the job, has become so pervasive that it now seems as common as filling out a W-4 form. Want a new job at McDonald's or Wal-mart? Here's your cup, there is the bathroom. Give us a urine sample, then we'll talk about whether you can work here.

Want to stay employed in that construction job? Better watch what you ingest over the weekend because you may be randomly selected to give a sample before punching in on Monday morning.

It really starts in 1986, at a time when only 21.5 percent of companies tested employees, Ronald Reagan mandated that all Federal Employees pass a drug test. The number of Fortune 200 companies that require pre-employment or random drug testing grew from 6 in 1983 to 196 in 1996. Eighty-three percent of employers surveyed believe that testing slows employee drug use, according to an AMA study. But 80 percent of companies in the same survey had never done a cost-effectiveness analysis.

Several studies have questioned the worth of workplace drug testing... Employee representatives often oppose unlimited testing and demand that government agencies adopt rules and procedures to guarantee constitutional protections; establish a need to seize an employee's body fluids; provide treatment, rehabilitation, and counseling, as well as meet the standard of probable cause that an employee is impaired in the performance of her or his duties by the use of alcohol or controlled substances.

So how did employers ever get the right to drug test employees anyway. It seems like a blatant case of unreasonable search and seizure and a clear violation of privacy and self incrimination. The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit drug testing of employees. Of course this is because all drugs were legal and drug testing technology did not exist when the Constitution was written. Which means it's basically up to the Supreme court to decide if these practices violate our civil rights. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Treasury Employees v. Von Raab , 489 U.S. 656 (1989),(in which they were ruling on Reagan's zero tolerance for Federal employees) the high court ruled that requiring employees to produce urine samples constituted a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, all such testing must meet the "reasonableness" requirement of the Fourth Amendment (which protects citizens against "unreasonable" searches and seizures, not only from the government but from anyone!). The Court also ruled that positive test results could not be used in subsequent criminal prosecutions without the employee's consent. (to satisfy self-incrimination issues)

So even as it's policy was being shot down by the Supreme Court Congress went ahead and passed the Drug Free work place act of 1988. This act expanded the Federal program to include not only Federal employees but operators of dangerous machinery or those engaged in other hazardous activities. This was followed by the Drug free Workplace act of 1998 which mandates that all employers have a drug free workplace program in place.

In September 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report based on studies by the National Science Foundation and the AMA showing that testing has been ineffective in reducing drug use and has no noticeable impact on reducing either absenteeism or increasing productivity. (Two of the four major arguments for drug testing)

The National Academy of Sciences recently found that illegal drugs contribute little to workplace accidents and that off-duty drug use has about the same small effect on worker accidents as off-duty drinking.

The real question is why do we need drug testing at all? Drug testing began as a safety measure, people who operated dangerous equipment, needed to be tested, so they wouldn't hurt others... The real question is why test? If a person is acting unusual or has had an accident, there seems to be some argument towards identifying the reason for the behavior or accident. But now we have pre-employment and random drug testing. The purpose to catch those who are not showing any signs of use or abuse. But wait a minute if there are no signs why test? and thus the first paradox of drug testing, if you have no idea ie: no suspicions why bother to test? Because you can't tell otherwise? Just doesn't make sense.
Reports have shown that up to 50% of test positives are false positives. It has also been proved that just about anyone can use anyone of several methods to thwart the tests and come up clean even after heavy drug use. These two things alone show that drug testing just plain does not work. So why does it continue? Some companies do it for image, others for insurance purposes, still more because these high paid executives actually believe they work. Interesting enough, there is no law saying you can't hire some one after failing a drug test, there is no law saying you must fire someone after failing a drug test. Why not? Because 30 million Americans who smoke pot, one million Americans who do other drugs, 50 million Americans who drink alcohol would be denied employment. 40% of the population would be excluded from working, now that sounds Unconstitutional. These are simply company policies to keep their workplaces drug free.

The real reason big bucks!!! There are three industries making a fortune off drug testing.. The ones who supply the testing kits ($40 -$100 or more per kit), the laboratories who specialize in drug testing ($150 - $????) and the ones who sell the kits to beat the tests (usually $20 - $50) Just Follow the Money....

Drug tests don't work and are also easily defeated, which makes them totally useless...If you get a chance to take one and could care less about the opportunity it may bring or take away just fail. If you care for some reason spend the $40 and cheat the test. It's the American way.

My Drug test experiences...

Take the International Drug Use Survey

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