Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 2004
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Edmonton Journal
Author: A.W. Braaten


As of this summer, a potential employee of a construction contractor
on the property of many petro-facilities must "pee clean" in order to
even set foot on site.

The reasoning behind this is to keep drugs out of the workforce, as
substance abusers are more likely to endanger property and their
fellow workers when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
However, this policy is likely to have an unintended consequence of
raising the price of cocaine in Fort McMurray, to the delight of
cocaine traffickers in Alberta. Many users of THC tend to work in this
industry and this policy will decrease their demand for marijuana. It
could cause users to substitute a hard drug like cocaine instead.

Currently, workers are typically compelled to take a urine test when
they are involved in an accident where property damage or personal
injury are involved. Workers are told that they can take a urine test
or be fired. Workers who quit are assumed to be guilty of having
something in their blood. Since not all construction workers are good
mama's boys, many will have trace amounts of THC from marijuana in
their bloodstream, as THC lingers for a long time (30 days). Cocaine,
however, can be eliminated in a weekend, or so I am told, making it
the recreational drug of choice among construction workers. This
policy could thereby inflate the demand for cocaine in the north and
increase policing and enforcement costs -- all to the burden of the
taxpayer of course.

The mandatory "piss test" in Alberta's construction industry will
likely have various unintended consequences such as this and should be
opposed by organized labour. What's next? Will workers soon have to
turn over their banking records to prove that they are not addicted to
VLTs, alcohol, tobacco and Lotto 6/49? I guess the government already
controls those vices -- it just doesn't like the competition.

A.W. Braaten,

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