Pubdate: Mon, 25 Apr 2005
Source: Daily Press (Newport News,VA)
Copyright: 2005 The Daily Press
Author: Paul Armentano
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


The authors' support for random student drug testing is unfounded ("Crisis 
calls for random drug testing," April 18). While we share their concern 
regarding alcohol and substance abuse among young people, the enactment of 
suspicionless student drug testing is not the solution.

According to a recent federal study of 76,000 students by the University of 
Michigan's Institute for Social Research, there is no difference in illegal 
drug use among students in schools that drug test as opposed to those that 
do not. "At each grade level - 8, 10 and 12 - the investigators found 
virtually identical rates of drug use," the study concluded.

Earlier this year, a comprehensive review by Britain's distinguished Joseph 
Rowntree Foundation also gave student drug testing a failing grade. 
According to the report, student drug testing "undermine[s] trust between 
pupils and staff," and in some cases, "encourage[s] pupils to switch from 
[the] use of cannabis ... that can be traced a relatively long time after 
use, to drugs that are cleared from the body much more quickly, including 

In other words, if you're looking for a surefire way to persuade little 
Johnny to switch from pot to crank, look no further than student drug testing.

Random drug testing of students is a humiliating, invasive practice that 
runs contrary the principles of due process. It compels teens to submit 
evidence against themselves and forfeit their privacy rights as a necessary 
requirement for attending school. Rather than presuming our school children 
innocent of illicit activity, suspicionless drug testing presumes them 
guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Is this truly the message our 
society wishes to send America's young people?

Paul Armentano

Senior policy analyst

National Organziation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Washington, D.C.
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