Pubdate: Thu, 10 Mar 2005
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Alan Young
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Cops Who Bust And Beat Us For Dope Should Themselves Be Drug-Free

Knowing of my public campaign to legalize marijuana, students often ask me 
if I get high before teaching. I always tell them this would be a tragic 
waste of pot.

But my real reason for workplace abstinence has nothing to do with stash 

Getting high, stoned or drunk at work demonstrates contempt for the 
employer, client and consumer. It doesn't even matter that for some jobs, 
some drugs may actually enhance performance. The bottom line is that work 
and self-indulgent decadence are incompatible bedfellows.

Advocating sobriety in the workplace doesn't inexorably lead to supporting 
workplace drug testing. Having said that, I believe police officers are the 
exception and should be drug tested. On Tuesday, March 8, the police 
services board decided to postpone any decision on this very point for a 
two-month consultation period.

Let's be clear. Drug testing is a nasty invasion of privacy. And collecting 
people's urine is a bizarre strategy for maximizing employee productivity 
and ensuring workplace safety. Urine is waste material and in waste you 
find evidence of past use but not necessarily present use.

Urine drug testing is really all about lifestyle control. It has little to 
do with workplace safety.

Of course I want airline pilots, bus drivers and heart surgeons to be sober 
while attending to my safety, but I really don't care if these people snort 
a little coke, puff a little weed or throw back a few stiff ones in their 
spare time. It's none of my business.

Nonetheless, I find it amusing that opposition and debate has arisen over 
the proposal to commence random drug testing of police officers in 
"high-risk" jobs. Mayor David Miller recently expressed the opinion that 
drug testing would be a violation of civil liberties in the absence of 
clear evidence demonstrating that drug use is a problem within the force.

I commend the mayor for recognizing that random drug testing engages a 
potentially serious rights violation, but Mayor Miller forgot the words of 
another great leader: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. He 
fails to recognize that the rights of police are tempered and modified by 
their legal duties and statutory powers.

When it comes to the police, it doesn't really matter that urine testing 
can only detect past use. Unlike those in any other profession, the police 
are armed with guns, pepper spray and the legal authority to use force, all 
in the name of enforcing the criminal code.

The law currently prohibits illicit drug use, and it stands to reason that 
those who can deprive illicit drug users of their liberty (and beat them in 
the process if they resist) should themselves be drug-free.

Hypocrisy can make a mockery of the rule of law, and this is why I don't 
think it's necessary to collect empirical data linking drug use by officers 
to the recent corruption scandal or any other police fiasco. In being 
placed in the unique position of exercising power, authority and force over 
those who make illegal lifestyle choices, the police officer should be 
required to relinquish a bit of privacy to prove that he or she is not 
engaged in the very same illegal lifestyle.

The same logic would dictate that criminal court judges and federal 
prosecutors be subjected to random drug testing, but the chances of that 
happening are about as good as getting politicians to take polygraph tests 
while making campaign promises.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom