Pubdate: Fri, 25 Aug 2000
Source: Wichita Eagle (KS)
Copyright: 2000 The Wichita Eagle
Contact:  P.O. Box 820, Wichita, KS 67201
Fax: (316) 268-6627
Author: Robert Sharpe


Apparently, Kansas educators did not bother to educate themselves on the 
limitations of drug testing ("Caldwell school drug policy adopted by more 
districts," Aug. 20 Eagle). If they had conducted independent research 
rather than accept the claims of drug-testing profiteers, they would likely 
have arrived at the conclusion that drug testing is an expensive scam. Any 
student capable of running an Internet search can thwart a drug test.

Urinalysis is virtually useless when it comes to detecting hard drugs. As 
such it can have the counterproductive effect of encouraging hard drug use 
when forced upon smokers of relatively harmless marijuana. The most 
commonly abused drug and one often associated with violent behavior is 
almost impossible to detect with urinalysis. That drug is alcohol, which 
takes student lives every year.

Hair testing is no silver bullet, either. Dark-haired individuals are more 
likely to test positive when hair tests are used, while fair-haired drug 
users have a good chance of escaping detection. This inherent racial bias 
is reason enough to avoid using hair tests, especially in light of the fact 
that blacks already bear the brunt of antidrug enforcement. Why not 
evaluate students based on academic performance rather than the contents of 
their hair or urine?

Robert Sharpe
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
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