Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Herald Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding John Sleeper's July 16 column, "Wage war on teenage drug abuse":

Student involvement in after-school activities like sports has been 
shown to reduce drug use. Sports 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 in extracurricular programs.

Drug testing may also compel marijuana users to switch to harder 
drugs to avoid testing positive. This is one of the reasons the 
American Academy of Pediatrics opposes student drug testing. 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 and 
prescription narcotics are water-soluble and exit the body quickly. 
If you think students don't know this, think again. Anyone capable of 
running an Internet search can find out how to thwart a drug test.

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, MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.
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