Pubdate: Sat, 13 Apr 2002
Source: Lodi News-Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Lodi News-Sentinel
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Charlie Hammond's excellent column ("Testing high school students for drugs 
is a bad idea,", April 9) argued against student drug testing 
on privacy grounds, but there are compelling health reasons to oppose drug 

Student involvement in extracurricular activities has been shown to reduce 
drug use. They keep kids busy during the hours they are most prone to 
getting into trouble. Forcing students to undergo degrading drug tests as a 
prerequisite will only discourage such activities.

Drug testing may also compel smokers of relatively harmless marijuana to 
switch to harder drugs to avoid testing positive. Despite a short- lived 
high, marijuana is the only drug that stays in the human body long enough 
to make urinalysis a deterrent. Marijuana's organic metabolites are 
fat-soluble and can linger for weeks.

Synthetic drugs are water-soluble and exit the body quickly. A student who 
takes ecstasy, cocaine, heroin or meth on Friday night will likely test 
clean on Monday morning.

If you think students don't know this, think again. Anyone capable of 
running a search on the Internet can find out how to thwart a drug test.

The most commonly abused drug is almost impossible to detect with 
urinalysis. That drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives every year 
than all illegal drugs combined.

Instead of wasting money on counterproductive drug tests, schools should 
invest in reality-based drug education.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer,
Drug Policy Alliance,
Washington, D.C.
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