Why suspicion-less employment drug testing is a bad idea

The federal government would like all companies to drug test all their workers, and so, of course, would the companies who make billions of dollars each year from the drug testing boom.

And yet, what value does suspicion-less drug testing actually serve? In most cases, less than none. Oh, sure, I know some defend the pre-employment drug test as a kind of intelligence screener (if you’re too dumb to figure out how to get clean long enough to pass one planned test…), but really? Do you need to pay a drug testing company for that information?

If your management can’t tell whether their workers are showing up impaired (whether from alcohol or other drugs, or sleep deprivation, or…) and unable to do their jobs, then you need to fire your management and get some competent people in there.

As I’ve indicated before, I’ve had the luxury of never working for a company that required drug testing. And I never will. Oh, I can understand that not everyone can do that, depending on the job market, and when I was younger, I might have worked temporarily for someone who required testing, but for a career? No way. Why would I want to spend my life in a career where my employer had so little respect for me as a person?

Ellen Comp has a nice piece on this topic focusing on another aspect of the downsides of workplace drug testing: Drug Testing Robs Workforce of Talent and Creativity

Second, by pre-screening away marijuana smokers, we’re weeding out (so to speak) some of our most creative and, I would argue, productive employees. If you doubt that marijuana smokers have contributed to our society, see VeryImportantPotheads.com. In the case of someone using marijuana for medical purposes, it’s downright discrimination to deny them employment for using what a doctor has legally recommended under state law.

Silicon Valley, the brainchild of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (who both admittedly smoked pot in their youth), notoriously does not drug test its employees, knowing they’d lose much of their talent that way. Yet the region is responsible for much of California’s economic productivity, in one of the few non-military industries the US has. Pot-friendly Hollywood is another shining example of an industry that exports instead of imports to the US, like most of our consumables.

Smart employers know that on-the-job impairment is better handled by proper supervision than suspicion-less drug testing, and that creating a workplace that welcomes and encourages talent and creativity is much more important to their success than tired federal drug-free-workplace slogans.


Note: I realize that many companies are required to have a drug free workplace policy if they have contracts with the federal or state government, but in most cases, those policies are not required to include suspicion-less testing, but merely an awareness program with rules against workplace drug use.

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46 Responses to Why suspicion-less employment drug testing is a bad idea

  1. claygooding says:

    They are selling drug testing litmus strios with a color chart at Dollar General so parents can check their kids,,of course it only detects marijuana use for days after use,as do even the DOT urine analysis test that costs considerably more.

    Their business is marijuana,,legalization will devastate their business quickly but they also have a slower kill from technology that will eventually make them obsolete,,once a saliva testing machine gets the bugs worked out and is on the market long enough to bring the starting price down,,employers will have the option of testing before the employee clocks in. It was hard enough getting and keeping jobs when urine testing started,,they added hair follicle testing and made marijuana use impossible to hide,,saliva testing will be the shits for anyone that enjoys any kind of buzz.

    • divadab says:

      and so they will blindly exclude more and more from employment until the only people they hire will be either the totally docile and obedient or the pathological cheaters. Any company that does this for long will be killed by its competition.

      • darkcycle says:

        “Any company that does this for long will be killed by its competition.” Aye, any company that does this for long will be killed BY IT’S OWN WORKERS.

  2. divadab says:

    Suspicion-less drug testing is so wrong on so many levels its hard to know where to start. But how about this – personal freedom, if it’s really a free society we live in, starts with my body. I am sovereign over my body, not you, not any government, not any employer. I mean, the Constitution has the 4th amendment that is supposed to enshrine citizens’ freedom from such arbitrary searches in the absence of probable cause.

    So why do these drug testers hate America so much as to piss on the Constitution by making their slaves pee in a cup?

    Because they still think they own slaves. Fascist fucks.

  3. allan says:

    yeah… f*** drug testing. I’ve told it before…

    I’ve been raising my 2 kids as a single dad for a decade. A few years back I was working 2 part time jobs (3 if you count my work w/ LEAP’s writing project) and a full time job. The only one w/ drug testing was the full time yob.

    My best friend had been looking for work and had stopped smoking ganja (because of pre-employment tests) so in solidarity I joined him. One lovely summer Sunday morn I wanted to smoke a bowl and did. Went out w/ my camera and had a nice walk around the farm shooting this and that. The next day at work I was told I had to go do the pee thing. I told my mgr “I’m not gonna pass.” I didn’t and was let go… in spite of the fact that I was an exemplary employee, excellent marks in every category on my employee review. I was part of the safety team, drove the forklift, chased down a thief… none of that mattered. What mattered was that I had microscopic amts of cannabis in my pee. I was, unceremoniously, dismissed/fired/canned.

    So yeah, fts. And f*** the asshats that profit off of what truly is a treacherous betrayal of the ideals of freedom and liberty.

    It’s not what you do, who you are. It’s how good, how low you bow to authority and how docile a little worker bee you can be.

  4. allan says:

    Ozzie and Harriet was fiction, Damitol®!

  5. curmudgeon says:

    The best company I ever worked for had a strict drug testing policy. We would test every drug we could get.

    • claygooding says:

      I have always passed any test I had time to study for,,since I know what drugs are I should have no problem cramming for the test.

  6. Servetus says:

    As a grant recipient, I’ve been required to fulfill the drug prohibition requirements contained in the grant solicitation, which typically involves maintaining a drug-free workplace.

    There is no stipulation in the grant rules about what people and employees do when they’re not in the workplace. There is no mandatory or random drug testing that I’ve encountered. A person caught exhibiting drug impairment on the work premises, by whatever means, is supposed to be referred to rehab, completion of which is required before returning.

    At its most embarrassing, an employer may be required to insult their employees’ intelligence by verbally informing them that they work in a drug-free workplace. There are also compliance documents requiring a signature from the grantee.

    Compliance to the drug rules in a grant is much like taking a loyalty oath. What’s happening is that every government agency, from NASA to the Dept. of Agriculture, gets money through the ONDCP to enforce the prohibition laws within their particular domain. These agencies take the money and use it, in this case, to create a big pile of sworn oath forms, stating that as a grant recipient you and your organization will confront the evil menace of drugs in the workplace. It’s a waste of time and paper, and a silly display of authority. Nothing gets accomplished by this mandatory ritual.

  7. stevo says:

    Because cannabis is illegal, failing a piss test is a form of self incrimination. Why can’t we plead the fifth? Tell your boss something like “I reserve the right not to incriminate myself… plus it’s gross, creepy, and disrepectful for you to ask for my pee.” We are also supposed to be Constitutionally protected from unreasonable searches. Inspecting bodily fluids on a molecular level, especially without any cause for suspicion, surely falls under that heading. I suppose the employers of America are not bound by the Constitution. But shouldn’t that prevent the Federal Government from directly requiring employers to violate our Constitional protections?

    • divadab says:

      Any lawyers care to comment? My understanding is that drug testing can be made a condition of employment at the employer’s discretion.

      Similarly, an employer can refuse to hire, and even fire, a tobacco smoker as a matter of policy. Tobacco smokers are not a “protected class” like minorities.

      But why would you want to work for an employer who shows so much disrespect for your personal freedom as to drug test you without cause? And who is so stupid as to equate smoking marijuana sometime in the past month and being a bad employee?

      • allan says:

        absolutely correct dividab. It’a not right, but it is what it be.

        And your last paragraph is the crux of the biscuit isn’t it?

        And why would we want to buy products from companies that think/operate like that? why would we want to vote for anyone running for any office that supports such an abomination?

        Random drug testing is realllly bad Kool-Aid.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          allan, believe it or not there are people who actually believe that all 20 million of us American potheads are lazy idiots on “welfare” because we couldn’t pass the pee test. I think that they think that if you smoke a joint that you transmogrify into Reverend Jim Ignatowski and piss dirty for the rest of your life. Thank god that the DOT got Reverend Jim fired. Now if those damn hippie lovers on the SCOTUS would quit with that 4th Amendment excuse nonsense we could get him off of welfare too. It wouldn’t be long until he’s in jail for robbing little old ladies for his merrywanna fix and off the public dole. Why the hell should the taxpayers have to pay for his needs? Oh wait…prison is free right? No? Well who cares about the cost?!?

          On Monday these wackos say that pot heads are all on welfare because their too incompetent to pass an EMIT test.

          On Tuesday they say that employers have the right to use urine to keep the potheads off of their payroll but don’t explain why someone too lazy to work and on welfare is applying for a job in the first place.

          Consistency and continuity aren’t often found in the Know Nothing prohibitionist. Actually, that would be a newsworthy event if found to have occurred.

  8. Peter says:

    Just looking at the agenda for Obama’s state of the union speech tonight… looks like he’s going to ignore the drug war and the potential for the green economy, while “concentrating on jobs for the middle-class.” I wonder how many middle-class jobs have been destroyed by his administration’s attacks on the medical and recreational cannabis industries?

    • darkcycle says:

      Oh, like he’s ever made a voluntary statement, or seriously addressed the issue before. It’s the issue that has topped all other issues, over and over and over again, whenever he has done one of those question and answer stints. And he’s ignored it or turned it into a joke every single time. Any body else notice they haven’t DONE one of those for a while? And drugs tops the list of issues at the petition site, too. They’ve responded with insulting regurgitations and gobblety-goop.
      OF COURSE he’s ignoring it in the “State of the Fascist Republic” speech.

  9. Chris says:

    I did a corporate software development job for about a year which had an initial pee-screen (good tolerance break I guess). But it hung over my head every day that someone might smell something and I decided I shouldn’t have to deal with that. I flew out to Silicon Valley and got a job where the drug test consisted of going outside with the team to smoke a joint. Oh, and they also have a volcano in the office. It’s different there; you just walk down the street and see people on bikes with big doobies hanging from their mouths and you can smell it randomly across town. I haven’t moved out there yet; currently working from home in Michigan where legislatures are whittling away at the law I voted yes on.

  10. Cliff says:

    I have stood fast and refused to take a drug test for any employment for almost 30 years. In 1986 I was kicked out of the US Army (a job and vocation that I cherished for 8 years as a soldier, 82C FA Surveyor & 11B Infantryman) for having unauthorized molecules in my urine which in no way affected my performance as a soldier. BTW, I have many decorations on my wall and letters of commendation and recommendation which demonstrate that I was a good soldier and technician which placed my duties first.

    I pledged then and there that I would never willingly take a drug test as a condition of employment. I would not give in. I knew what I was sacrificing but I knew that I could not willingly participate in giving away my sovereignty as a human. I knew that most people would laugh at me, ridicule me and tell me I am a fool while they lined up and peed for their jobs like trained seals and got really good jobs.

    Meanwhile, I struggled to get by doing whatever I could to pay the bills, up to and including scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. I also got my BA and MS while working several part time jobs. I was also able to pay my child support and student loans in full.

    I have been waiting for everyone to wake up to the realization that the drug tests were the first of many obedience tests to teach people to become slaves to their government and corporate masters, by giving away the ownership of their bodies. The corporate and government piss tasters hold out the prospect of employment for a price so that the slaves may buy trinkets and baubles made in China while their jobs and wealth were off-shored, outsourced and stolen by those whom they sold their souls to.

    Which begs the question, who are the real criminals in our society of ersatz freedom and liberty? Those who responsibly consume substances which are labeled illegal, but are hard working and decent people or those who squandered our birthrights as Americans to be free from oppression and enslavement by corporate and government slavemasters?

    I say, welcome to my brothers and sisters who have been awakened. It has been a long wait.

  11. Dante says:

    Seems to me that drug-testing is one of many government programs which hurts America economically.

    Any means of removing a wide swath of the most eligible work force in any economy will damage that economy just like removing gasoline from a combustion engine will shut it down.

    We have reams of examples which bear this out – a famine or epidemic, a war, a natural disaster, banker misconduct on a global scale – history agrees that when huge numbers of people are suddenly taken out of the work force, the economy suffers.

    Look what happened in 2008 when Obama started cracking down on illegal immigrants – they fled in droves and the economy was damaged by all the loans they didn’t pay, all the food they didn’t consume, all the cars, gas, houses, stuff they didn’t buy.

    It’s not the only reason we crashed and burned in 2009, but it is a big one.

    So, thanks for nothing, U.S. Government.

    • Cliff says:

      Seems to me that drug-testing is one of many government programs which hurts America economically.

      Any means of removing a wide swath of the most eligible work force in any economy will damage that economy just like removing gasoline from a combustion engine will shut it down.

      To the PTB this is a feature, not a bug. While they are busy crashing our economy, the corporations complain that they can’t find any workers who can pass a piss test so they cry MOAR H1B’s PLEEZ. Meanwhile, many qualified, dedicated, hard working people are left out in the cold because they responsibly use unauthorized substances and won’t pee for a paycheck.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      The problem with that theory is that we crashed and burned in 2008. The timeline can be traced back into the 1990s. Mr. Clinton started it, Mr. Bush the lesser finished it, and Mr. Greenspan enabled it. If you want to, we can even find a place to toss Mr. Reagan into the mix for helping out the Afghans after the Russians tried to take over that country in the 1980s by providing training and military support to the people that we called the Freedom Fighters back in that day, but are called Al Queda today. The one person that you really can’t fit into the entire clusterfuck is Mr. Obama. Fit in either way cause it or fix it, he’s really been pretty meaningless and the strategy is to inflate the Country out of the mess. But he can’t bring himself to force interest rates back up into the teens which is what the economy needs if he really wanted to go that route. Lately I’ve really been crying that Mr. Gore didn’t win on Election Day 2000. The fact that he’s made himself $100 million and won an Oscar since then tells me that he’d have done a lot better for the Country than Messrs. Bush and Cheney. He wouldn’t have quit letting Mr. Hussein sell Iraq’s oil out the back door so we’d still have gas at around $1/gallon instead of pushing $4 and the Twin Towers would still be part of the New York Skyline. I guess when we get down to brass tacks I blame Mr. Bush the lesser and his goddamn daddy obsession. Oh well, what the heck are you going to do about it? We live in a Country that’s just lousy with dumbshits and to our mutual misfortune, they vote.

      • allan says:

        We live in a Country that’s just lousy with dumbshits and to our mutual misfortune, they vote

        and get elected…

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Addendum: IMO Iraq’s oil and the Twin Towers were separate events. I didn’t mean to imply above that they were related though I can see it’s reasonable to read that into my choice of words.

  12. strayan says:

    If my employer demanded I provide them with a urine specimen they may find themselves trying to wring it out of the carpet and whatever else I had the opportunity to piss all over before I was escorted off the premises.

  13. darkcycle says:

    O/T I have the COOLEST neighbors. Most grower’s biggest worry is neighbors who will blow them in. My biggest worry this year will be having enough starts to keep them all happy. Second neighbor in a week came asking if I would have them this year (yes, both are medical). Yep, I’ll have ten Blueberry’s ready to go out by April 25th.
    I fucking LOVE Washington….

    • Chris says:

      So, it’s been a little bit by now since November. What’s freedom been like?

    • Deep Dish says:

      What are you going to do for 4/20? You should have a BBQ house party.

      • darkcycle says:

        Yeah, every body leaves with a plant for their garden. It’d be lovely, but no plan making ’till after the Africa trip….we’re still waiting (aaaaaaaagh!). And it’s gonna be minimal notice…we’ll get our appointment, and have probably three to five days to get there. I’m crazy-insane with the waiting and the additional expenses.

  14. Deep Dish says:

    Back when I was 18 in my senior year of high school, the first job I ever applied for was at an electronics store, similar to Best Buy. I was hired but never got the job because the results never came back from the lab. This was seven years before I even tried pot for the first time, so I was screwed out of a job when I was virginly clean.

    A few years later, I was hired at a print shop factory and was tested. Management was super anal: you had to swipe your fingerprints when clocking in/out, and you would get disciplined for clocking outside of +/- 2 minutes from your assigned time. I was swiftly fired on my third day for performance. Good fucking riddance.

  15. divadab says:

    OT – comments open on this story in WA:


    PLease add voices of reason to this henny-penny article!

  16. Bruce says:

    Having to hunt for stories on Canadians. Apparent Zero IQ Canada been sitting Rudderless for Years at the Ten Commandments Crossroads. One direction represents Hope, Dignity, and Enlightenment, while the other leads to Death, Misery, and Sorrow.
    Dark Force Tories, after Scouting both Options seem Twitchy towards Scenario ‘B’.
    C’mon ScamLand,,, I’ll Piss on you before in any Cup. Make up your Minds.

  17. chip says:

    The collectivists being know nothings are the new barbarians. What they know is the promises of the strong men whose harness they choose to draw. The totalitarian workplace is a grinding down of individuals to fit the corporate operational policy/plan. Forget creative, think imitative. By showing media reconstructions of “everyday” capitulation..,each generation is eased into the production lines of mutually assured destruction. O well.

  18. damaged justice says:

    The unlicensed software professions are some of the last holdouts where a person can get a job on their merits and not be required to submit to this sort of degrading totalitarian fetish.

    “If I instituted drug testing at Cypress, I would get a brick through my windshield, and I would deserve it.”
    – T.J. Rogers of Cypress Semiconductor

  19. darkcycle says:

    Here’s where to subscribe to the listserve/rss feed from the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s I-502 implementation project:

  20. allan says:

    Bummer current headline:

    House snuffs out bill to legalize marijuana in Hawaii

    • Deep Dish says:


      Here is video of the testimony. It was 3 1/2 hours long, but two fantastic highlights are 15:50-19:45 and 36:00-41:15. The endings are priceless!

      • Chris says:

        I’ve had this playing in the background since you posted it, thanks!

      • Irie says:

        Does anyone know who this very intelligent and tactful lady speaker is (15:50 to 19:45), bravo bravo……she did a fine job of thoroughly and without a doubt making her point, and reducing the obvious IQ level of the federal talking head she was toying with !! Loved it, took him apart like a cheap watch!!

  21. mr. ikashini says:

    Are there ant other nations in the world which does this ridiculous practice?

    • divadab says:

      Not surprising. I think it’s ok – the Feds are protecting our cottage industry and keeping the bigs out.

      Thank you, Mr. Curlykowski! See you soon with Larry and Moeski.

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