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Drug Testing (2876 words)

Drug TestingDrug Testing Drug testing in the United States began with the explosive use of illegal drugs, in order to curb drug abuse. This began during the Vietnam War with drug use at a climax. In general, Drug testing is a way to detect illegal drug use and deter it, usually by Urinalysis. Drug testing in the United States violates a citizen’s right to unreasonable search and seizure’s along with jeopardizing one’s freedom. Furthermore, Drug testing is not only an unreliable invasion of a person’s privacy but it assumes that one is guilty before submitting to the test. Drug testing began to take place in the mid 1960’s when drugs like Marijuana, hallucinogens and other drugs were becoming widespread (Stencel, pp.201). The military implemented mandatory drug testing because of the widespread use and the number of Vets that were returning home because of addiction. Ronald Reagan pushed for employers to implement drug testing and even had himself screened for illegal drugs to encourage employers and to reduce opposition to testing (Stencel, pp. 200). “The increased concern about drug abuse has, in part, been the result of the early 1986 appearance on the streets of crack-a new, powerfully addictive form of cocaine-and the growth of cocaine addiction” (Berger, 12). President Reagan later called for a second “war on drugs” campaign. In October of 1986, President Reagan signed into law a 1.7 billion dollar anti-drug bill, called the “Drug-Free Workplace Order”. In addition to the bill, Reagan instructed his cabinet officers to create a plan to begin drug testing for federal civil employees (Berger, 14). Drug testing thus begun a sharp climb into the area of private employers. In November of 1988 Congress passed an Act requiring grant recipients or federal contractors to maintain drug-free workplaces. Most of the employers set up voluntary testing programs and many employees began to sue, claiming that individual testing is a violation of privacy rights (Horgan, 21). The argument is that the employees are being deprived of their Fourth Amendment protection (22). Many believe that government testing programs should be unconstitutional unless the authorities have either reasonable suspicion or probable cause that the individuals being tested are on drugs. To justify the use of private employer testing, President Bush said in 1989 that “Drug abuse among American workers costs businesses anywhere from $60 billion to $100 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, drug-related accidents, medical claims, and theft” (Horgan, 19). This claim was derived from a source that interviewed families that were 28% lower in overall income than the average household. This was used in an effort to promote Bush’s “war on drugs” forum into the private sector (Horgan, 21). Many behavior’s of lower income people often differ statistically from upper-income people, therefore the statement of Bush never establishes a clear or accurate statistic. “In 1989 President George Bush unveiled his National Drug Control Strategy, encouraging comprehensive drug-free workplace policies in the private sector and in state and local government” (Stencel, 201). This created many controversies within the American workplace and in National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab decision; the Supreme Court upheld that drug testing was legal as long as it outweighs privacy rights (James). Then, in 1991 Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation and Employment Testing Act, which would extend drug testing in the United States. Throughout the rest of the 90’s drug tests were extended to the outermost sectors of society causing drugs to become a significant issue during election times, although politicians are never tested themselves. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution was created because of the rough treatment of colonists by the British. The British restricted trade and travel and this gave way to smuggling. “British soldiers frequently conducted unrestricted house-to-house searches. People were forced to keep their private records and other personal information on their person or hidden in their home or business to avoid exposure and possible arrest” (Berger, 102). The Fourth Amendment was part of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights to protect one’s privacy and maintain search and seizure guarantees. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis described the right to privacy as “the right to be let alone-the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the “right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure” except upon probable cause. Random drug testing threatens the Fourth Amendment and has been called suspicion by association. This is to say that it is not possible to justify a search of one person because they are similar to another. “Suppose a certain neighborhood has a high incidence of violent crime. The police cannot defend a blanket search of all residents by claiming that there were many armed individuals among them, they say” (Berger, 52). “Random drug testing assumes that every student is using drugs until they prove to the contrary by submitting a urine sample,” (ACLU, 1) In general, the government cannot search a person without reason to suspect that he or she is guilty of wrongdoing. There is an exception, however, in limited circumstances, where the search is in special need, the government has a compelling interest in the search or the privacy interests affected by the test are minimal. In Random Drug testing there are no Fourth Amendment rights to be maintained. “The right to privacy is, as determined by the Supreme Court to be an implicit guarantee of the Constitution” (Holtorf, 132). Drug tests reveal many areas of one’s life which may want to be hidden to their employer or to the outside world. “Drug tests can reveal the use of contraceptives, pregnancy, or medication for depression, epilepsy, diabetes, insomnia, schizophrenia, high blood pressure, and heart trouble” (Holtorf, 132). The disclosure of this type of information can be both embarrassing and harmful to one’s social and professional career. In some cases this has led to loss of employment for discriminated individual’s. Such in the case of Duane Adens, a former Sergeant of the Army. Adens was asked to give a body hair and he refused. He then took a urine test and it came back negative. He was then asked to provide hair for a test and when he did this the test came back positive for drugs. Aden was stunned and the army denied his request for a DNA test of the hair to prove it was his. Sergeant Adens received a bad conduct discharge in July 1998. “For a soldier to lose his self-esteem, family and military respect is a bit too much based on the strength of a body hair.”-Representative Charles Rangel, New York. (Kean, 3-4). This man will suffer the rest of his life, a federal conviction, because of a falsity in our Drug testing system. In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that compulsory blood tests are bodily searches. The Fourth Amendment, it said, applied to such searches. A compulsory blood test could be conducted only if there is “a clear indication that in fact evidence will be found” (Berger, 51). This is to say that someone can be given a test if there is a specific reason to believe that this person is using drugs. In all court cases, the court has ruled in favor of the plaintiff stating that the body and bodily fluids are considered in the Fourth Amendment privacy clause. Yet in Drug Testing this is not the case. In Allen v. City of Marietta, the Georgian court felt constrained by current law to hold that a urinalysis is indeed a search. (Berger, 51). Urinalysis is most definitely a search considering that a search of one’s home is considered invading privacy, what about one’s urine? This is the most personal and private information one can give out. Another clause in the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution is that of Due Process. The Fourth Amendment clearly states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of the law.” Pre-employment drug screening completely defies this in that it gives a prospective employee no chance of challenging the test. The job seeker is not considered for employment without even knowing that it was because of a positive drug test. There have been many cases that a person is eliminated from the job pool because of a positive outcome of a drug test and the person is not a drug user. The prospective employee has no chance to explain a positive test due to a prescription drug or certain foods. It is possible to be a job-seeker and never obtain a job because of positive results on a drug test due to a prescription drug, unless the prospective employer uses their time to show the results. Drug testing without a prior suspicion or probable cause can also lead to the absence of Equal protection under the law, the Fourteenth Amendment (Holtorf, 135). “The Fourteenth Amendment was cited as protection against selection of a group of athletes for testing by the National Collegiate Athletic Association without demonstrating a likelihood that drug use was prevalent in that population” (Holtorf, 136). Drug tests today are considerably weak. Mistakes and errors swarm the vast business of drug testing. “Clinical laboratories are not experienced with the special requirements for specimen collection, analysis, storage, documentation, transport, and handling” (McBay, 33B). Often times, simple mistakes such as mislabeling or reporting errors are the reason for a positive turnout on a drug test. “Because drug testing has become a very competitive industry, laboratories are implementing cost cutting measures and attempting to test increasing numbers of specimens quicker and cheaper, which is causing testing accuracy to worsen even further” (McBay, 33B). Often times, a positive result has to be protested in order to have the test sent to a more elaborate, expensive laboratory. An example of this was with a Heavyweight boxing match in which the boxer, Tim Witherspoon was knocked out in the first round by James Smith and a week after the fight Witherspoon was tested positive for Marijuana use. Witherspoon protested this and it was later found that there was an error in identifying the specimen. “Dr. Don H. Catlin, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California at Los Angeles, says that drug-testing firms “vary tremendously in quality from laboratory to laboratory as well as within the same laboratory on a day-to-day basis” (Berger, 42). The reason is because the person reviewing the tests needs to be both competent and knowledgeable in this field considering that this is someone’s future at stake. “The bulk of the errors could be attributed to inadequate personnel, poor management, broken chain of custody, faulty maintenance, and faulty admissions of reports and records, rather than the tests themselves” (Holtorf, 63). Lack of education and experience often play a part in the accuracy ratings of the different institutions. “In the Spring of 1985, experts at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta found a high rate of inaccuracy among the nation’s drug-testing laboratories. A study of 13 laboratories serving 262 drug-treatment centers in the United States revealed that all had performed unsatisfactorily and had failed to identify correctly even half of the samples for four out of five drugs tested.” (Berger, 43). “Only 85 of the estimated 1,200 laboratories in the United States meet federal standards for accuracy, qualified lab personnel, and proper documentation and record keeping” (Holtorf, 60). Society is often misled on the accuracy of the laboratories and many of the offices are performing much below the level in which they are portrayed. True results would be damaging to a laboratory’s reputation and to their business (Holtorf, 61). One of the newest drug testing techniques being used is Hair testing. This form of drug testing is considered less invasive and harder to pass. Hair testing can obtain information on drugs that were done as long as three months prior to the day of testing. The question of discrimination, accuracy and purpose of the testing raise the most questions. Contamination of the hair is also a factor in the decline of accuracy of this test. The hair of African-Americans binds drugs into the roots of the hair ten to fifty times more than that of a Caucasian (Holtorf, 104). This is extremely discriminatory because of the greater risk an African-American will have in taking a Hair test. “Some tests have shown that coarse hair shows much higher concentrations of drugs than lighter hair after ingestion at the same amount of drugs” (Stencel, 199). There have been numerous studies conducted that show that when two individuals ingest the same amount of drugs, the darker complexion, darker haired one will show greater concentration of the drug. In two different cases two African-American women were tested positive to Drug use through hair testing and now are pending investigations. “On August 1996, Althea Jones and Adrian McClure, along with six other Chicago African-Americans who say they received erroneous hair test results when applying for the Police Academy, filed complaints of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The group is considering suing both the city of Chicago and Psyche medics” (Kean, 1) Many scientists have confirmed that there is no true distinction between the drugs being smoked or being in the same area or room for a great duration of time in the result of the hair test. Also, because of the low level of tolerance in the testing even a second hand experience to a drug such as Marijuana can cause a positive result in a drug test. Dyeing of hair also has different effects for types of hair. Using bleach, perming or excessive UV exposure can decrease the chance of testing positive in a Hair test. “For these reasons, the ACLU strongly opposes hair testing. “Every reputable scientific organization in America rejects the use of hair testing for employment purposes,” (Stencel, 199). The Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Transportation, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Society of Forensic Toxicologists all raise serious questions about the accuracy of hair testing (Kean). “The consensus of scientific opinion is that there are still too many unanswered questions for it to be used in employment situations,” said Edward Cone, the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s leading researcher on the test, in June 1998. In a recent interview, Cone said that hair testing “is not ready for use yet, where people’s lives are at stake” (Kean, 2). Our Politicians in the United States are not tested for Drugs. This is quite alarming that the idols that we vote into office and make out laws are somehow above the law when in comes to Drug testing. “In late September 1998, the White House refused requests from congressional investigators seeking information about the jobs held by those in the special drug testing program. “Your request amounts to asking us to be complicitous in a methodical, broad scale invasion of privacy,” White House Counsel Jack Quinn wrote in a letter to House Civil Service Subcommittee Chairman John Mica.” (York, 7). Even the man who is the leader of our great nation. The one man who holds the greatest power and receives the most respect in the world has fallen into drugs. “There is evidence that Bill Clinton himself attended some of Lasater’s parties. “I’d never seen the governor around coke unless he was around Lasater.” Brown told Tyrell that he saw Clinton “stoned” but never actually witnessed the governor ingesting drugs” (York, 7). “While Congress pushed for more small businesses to do drug testing, it refused to submit to drug testing, it refused to submit to drug testing for congressmen and their staffs, claiming it was too undignified and possibly unconstitutional” (Stencel, 205). It isn’t fair for a Congress that enacts laws to require the people to undergo drug tests not submit themselves to the same level of testing. Drug testing in our country does have its benefits. Yet there are so many disadvantages and holes in Drug testing that it costs our country billions of dollars every year. Employment Drug testing is a proven failure; the only gain is the gain of public funds and reputations that politicians have gained through their active role in Drug testing. Drug testing is not decreasing drug abuse, it is being used to discriminate thousands and ruin lives of millions of others. The Fourth Amendment is a cornerstone of our countries Democracy; Drug testing needs to be removed from our everyday lives to ensure that we maintain this Democracy and continues to live our lives the “American way” as the framers of the Constitution intended.
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