Pubdate: Sun, 24 Sep 2006
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus,GA)
Copyright: 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Robert Sharpe


Does the Harris County School Board seriously believe that voluntary
drug tests will catch drug-using students? Still, voluntary drug tests
are preferable to mandatory ones. The U.S. Supreme Court made a
terrible mistake when it ruled that drug testing students in
extracurricular activities is constitutional. Student involvement in
after-school activities like sports has been shown to reduce drug use.
They keep kids busy during the hours they are most likely to get into
trouble. Forcing students to undergo degrading urine tests as a
prerequisite will only discourage participation.

Drug testing may also compel marijuana users to switch to harder drugs
to avoid testing positive. Despite a short-lived high, marijuana is
the only illegal 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 days. More dangerous synthetic drugs
like methamphetamine are water-soluble and exit the body quickly. If
you think drug users don't know this, think again.

Anyone capable of running an Internet search can find out how to
thwart a drug test. Drug testing profiteers do not readily volunteer
this information, for obvious reasons. The most commonly abused drug
and the one most closely associated with violent behavior is almost
impossible to detect with urinalysis. That drug is alcohol, and it
takes far more student lives each year than all illegal drugs
combined. Instead of wasting money on counterproductive drug tests,
schools should invest in reality-based drug education.

Robert Sharpe

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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