Pubdate: Wed, 27 Dec 2000
Date: 12/27/2000
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Author: Stephen Young

While it's heartening to see the federal government finally
recognizing some unfair aspects of drug testing, the whole procedure
should be abandoned. Drug tests can destroy the reputation of those
who have nothing to do with drugs, but may actually encourage the use
of more dangerous drugs by others.

Marijuana can be detected by urine tests for weeks after use; traces
of heroin and cocaine can be found for only a couple days. As the
weekend starts, a savvy illegal drug user knows to stick to the hard
stuff. Marijuana never leads to death, as heroin, cocaine and alcohol
sometimes do; but in a professional sense, it's the least safe drug.
As usual, the disastrous zero-tolerance tactics of the drug war
aggravate drug problems while solving nothing.

It's reasonable to implement performance-based testing to confirm or
reject suspicions that an employee may be impaired on the job. Urine
tests, on the other hand, have as little intrinsic value as the fluid
anaylzed, unless a high price is placed on an employer's ability to
intrude on the private life of a worker.

Stephen Young,
Roselle, Ill.