Against random student drug testing

Doctors Group Opposes Student Drug Testing, reported by Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority

A group representing 62,000 pediatricians said Monday that schools should not randomly drug test students.[…]

Beyond drug testing’s futility, the group’s policy statement cites a number of harms the practice can cause:

“Other concerns regarding school-based drug testing include the potential for breach of privacy (eg, when a student’s prescribed medications are identified on a drug test); detrimental consequences, such as suspension or expulsion for students who have positive drug test results; school dropout or increased truancy for students who fear they would fail a drug test; or increased use of substances not easily detectable on a drug screen.”

In a technical report accompanying the new policy statement, the pediatricians also note the “unfair stigmatization” that can result from false-positive test results. “Consequences related to false-positive drug test results (school suspension, exclusion from extracurricular activities, interpersonal relationship stressors with parents, peers, teachers, and school administrators) can have significant effects on a high school student.”

We still have school districts all over the country instituting drug testing for students, and it’s going to take some time to reverse the trend.

I know I’ve discussed this here before, but I am opposed to suspicionless drug testing for any group, including suspicionless employment drug testing, suspicionless student drug testing, and suspicionless public assistance drug testing.

As an overall notion, it is offensive to American principles to set up procedures requiring people to prove their “innocence.” And, time and time again, the more that these policies are properly analyzed in context, we find that they are more harmful overall than helpful.

Related: School Suspensions Cause More, Not Less, Student Marijuana Use

Students who attend schools that use out-of-school suspension as a punishment for illegal drug use were 1.6 times more likely to use marijuana in the next year than those at schools without such policies, researchers from the University of Washington and various institutions in Australia found in the paper, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

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29 Responses to Against random student drug testing

  1. claygooding says:

    As the corruption of our drug policy,,a policy built on lies and racial bigotry and kept going using the same tactics,, creeps into our society it just keeps getting worse not better and it is past time to stop calling for the legalization of marijuana.

    Obama was correct..we need to be calling for and end of prohibition and the war on drugs that will destroy our society,,too save us.

  2. Frank W. says:

    Tell, no, MAKE schools stop collaborating with a criminal cartel, the drug testing industry. That silly lawsuit against Colorado is nothing compared to the millions that will be (and have already been) poured into buying politicians off to protect The Racket.

  3. Servetus says:

    Forget drug abuse. Student abuse is endemic in many US public and private schools, thanks to an adherence to superstition, bigotry, and a mandate to persecute those who taste forbidden fruits.

    Within this oppressive atmosphere, any student experiencing a self-realization, such that the student fails to acquiesce to state and corporate standards of ignorance and servility, is condemned. Conformity and dependence is rewarded, while thinking, independence, and creativity is discouraged and punished.

    Drug testing of students is opposed by the pediatricians’ group because their professional ethics require they do no harm. Not so for certain schools and school boards, whose mandate from insular political factions can promote the non-virtues of anti-science and anti-intellectualism. Those who survive or overcome systemic student abuse often end up radicalized in opposition to their oppressors.

  4. darkcycle says:

    Dur. Of course suspension encourages more cannabis use. What the heck else are you going to do with those long days? Tossing frisbee in the park is a lot more fun after a phatty.
    Face it, if they were really interested in reducing cannabis use, providing new opportunities to use and plenty of free time would be the last thing on the list of things they should try.

    • Pete says:

      Actually, the study found increased cannabis use among those who weren’t suspended, in schools that used suspension. Not sure of the reasons, but I suspect it has to do with the overall approach toward problem-solving used by schools that rely on things like suspension to deal with casual drug use.

    • Windy says:

      Hubby always says,
      “What good do suspensions do? All they are are vacations from the tedium of school, the kids love them. More a reward for bad behavior than a punishment.”
      He’s right. I oppose public schooling for many reasons, this is just one more reason to add to the list.

  5. Chris says:

    When are we going to get around to demolishing those workplace tests? That’s my real concern. I just passed one legit then vaped a bag a day later. The next day, synthetic urine arrived at my door via FedEx. I’ve been fired for failing a post-employment test, and I’ve had jobs where I smoked with my coworkers / they knew. I wish this wasn’t necessary for my peace of mind.

    • kaptinemo says:

      It will stop when enough of us get mad enough to pound Congressional desks and demand it ended. And seeing as we are now the social and political majority, why are we waiting?

  6. kaptinemo says:

    (Shaking head ruefully) How many times have we said it? How many times? It doesn’t work, it never has worked, and like almost all prohib schemes, the only beneficiaries are the prohibs.

    But in going over that position paper, one is struck by the absence of one particular aspect of drug testing: the effect this has on student attitudes towards such little things such as human rights. Namely, they are being taught that authorities can negate them at will.

    This is not accidental, it is deliberate. The intent was and remains to create a docile workforce fearful of making any complaints – or worse, engage in activism – and thus maintain the profit margin uninterrupted. This goes all the way back to the Powell Memorandum.

    In order to accomplish this, essentially a Right Wing Authoritarian regime has to be established. Obviously, an outright takeover – such as was planned in 1933 – would be too risky. A much more subtle plan was required, hence the Powell Memo.

    Although not specifically mentioned, since the primary resistance to the predations of the crypto-fascist alliance between Gub’mint and Big Business came from young activists, and since illicit drugs were (stereotypically) thought to be a province of young activists, the idea was to attack those not enamored of the Corp-rat State via their (supposed) shared vices. Which is what fueled the Nixon phase of the 100 Years DrugWar. (People keep making the mistake that Nixon started the DrugWar. No, Woodrow Wilson started it. In 1914. We should call it the Hundred Years DrugWar.)

    As Tricky Dick’s henchman Erlichman said: “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” This dovetailed perfectly with the Powell Memo’s spirit, if not specific intent.

    Drug testing of Viet Nam War veterans prior to their return to ‘The World’ was already being instituted; the intent became to expand that to everyone they could, so that all would cower and not make a fuss or be threatened with a conveniently false positive and lose their livelihood. The rest is History.

    But the prohibs, in their unconscious arrogance, forgot one thing: Teach children that rights are fictions, and when they are older, they will teach that same lesson to their teachers. I am reminded of the lyrics of an old Sting song:

    I will turn your face to alabaster
    Then you’ll find your servant is your master

    Demographically, that day is already here. And cannabis law reform is only the very tip of a broad spear held by those who’ve been subjected to the former ‘masters’ whims all their lives, and now have had enough.

    • “Demographically, that day is already here. And cannabis law reform is only the very tip of a broad spear held by those who’ve been subjected to the former ‘masters’ whims all their lives, and now have had enough.” -kaptinemo

      That’s why I am here kapt. As I drove home one day and dutifully went around the array of flashing lights surrounding some totally frightened teens, I asked myself how much of this I was willing to let my children and grandchildren go through. My answer was none of it. Better late than never, and at 64 years of age I can guarantee that I won’t go quietly into the night until this drug war has breathed it’s last.

    • Windy says:

      This is not accidental, it is deliberate. The intent was and remains to create a docile workforce fearful of making any complaints – or worse, engage in activism – and thus maintain the profit margin uninterrupted. This goes all the way back to the Powell Memorandum.

      kap, it goes back a LOT further than that, it goes all the way back to the introduction of the Prussian model of schooling, in 1835.

      • kaptinemo says:

        Windy, I would hold that the underlying motivation behind adopting the Prussian methodology goes back even further than that. It goes back to Jefferson’s observation: “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” No one should have to state the obvious that it seems there are those who seek to keep the rest of us in darkness so that they can operate unimpeded. Just look at all the attempts to throttle the Internet.

        Having been subjected to both parochial and public schooling, and having (thankfully, briefly) worked in the IT department of a (comparatively rich) county’s school board in MD many years back, and had to travel to various schools (and thus witnessed, in school after school, what appears to be institutionalized Bedlam) I can speak without reservation that the latter system seems to want to reinforce regimentation, not dispense education.

        And they can’t even get the regimentation right. Bad enough that today’s kids are already being cheated of their futures materially, courtesy of banksterism; failing them educationally is gilding this country’s lily.

        I always tell people, when they hear me comment about the poor state of education in this country, that I got my education despite the best efforts of the public school system, not because of it. It failed my nephew by repeatedly ‘socially advancing’ him through the system when he had a very poor reading comprehension problem. The family chipped in for a tutor to take care of what the system couldn’t be bothered with fixing…and thus we paid twice for his education.

        Don’t get me wrong; I was very lucky to have a lot of good teachers in public school (Ms. Smith, Mr. Aton, Mr. Estepp, and all those others, alive and not, too many to recall, who busted their arses every day to try to impart some wisdom, thank you so much!).

        But that was in the 1960’s and ’70’s, when corporations and religious nut cases weren’t trying to manipulate the curriculum via infesting school boards with their respective greed and manias.

        And, Deity bless them, there are still lots of good teachers who are struggling every day with insane curriculum demands, low budgets, (they’re buying school supplies for the kids out of their own freakin’ pockets, ferchrisaake!) etc. who are trying to make a positive difference in the lives of their students. But no matter how hard they try, when the system mandates failure as being success, their efforts will come to naught, and that’s why so many burn out and quit, if only to save what sanity they have left.

        So given what I have seen from inside the belly of the beast, as a student (= victim) of it and later as ‘infrastructure’, I will state plainly that the system is meant to deaden the mind, not awaken it. IMHO, If the public school system as it stands today could be rendered down chemically, it would be Schedule 1. Deservedly so.

        • darkcycle says:

          The good teachers are still out there, and as long as inspired and creative people teach, they wil be there. That’s the reason the system works, and it actually works for many if not most. Teachers are the reason they will neve r be able to remove education and replace it with indoctrination (sorry, I am a very strong supporter of public schools.). That is why they are attacking teachers most viciously. They are the biggest obstacle to a pure testing regime run by amateurs.
          Far more dangerous to have a school system operated by capitalists and run by amateurs, where performance on a test stands in for the ability to think.

        • kaptinemo says:

          DC, I will have to beg to differ; indoctrination has already replaced education, as many teachers will attest.

          John Taylor Gatto’s media page

          Charlotte Iserbyt’s YouTube Page

          A few good walls and joists can’t hold up a house riddled with termites forever. And that’s what we have in public education.

          My sympathies are for the teachers, as well…as I thought I had mentioned. But I am reminded of the old apocryphal tale about a worker in a ‘baby carriage’ factory in Nazi Germany who couldn’t afford one himself, so he swiped parts one at a time, but when he finally put them together, he had a machine gun, not a baby carriage.

          The parts of the curricula, when assembled, don’t serve the students – or the nation – well at all, and it’s getting worse. One need only look at the horrible misspellings encountered in any comment section of any Webpage and you’ll see how well they were ‘served’…or, as I used to say to the kids I used to work with, that they should sue their respective Boards of Education for fraud. They were ‘ripped off’. Cheated. And as with them, now, so is the country, later.

        • darkcycle says:

          And you would replace it with….what? I learned in spite of the school system, not because of it. As did many here. You found, as did I there’s only so much a curriculum can do absent the desire to learn. Not every one is BORN with that desire, it has to be kindled in most. Some never get it. That’s not the fault of the schools, or the teachers. (honestly, without some Pat Robertsons and Sarah Palins, who would we look to for entertainment?)
          I live hard up by the reservation. Without compulsory education (a misnomer,since it is perfectly legal to home school here in Wa., in fact the public school system will support your decision to home school by providing resources, library time and even tutors to come into your own homes to help where a parent might be over their heads,) those children would be simply lost. Only a few would get any education at all. Most would never learn to read or write, basic literacy among the poorer segments of society would plummet. (You need literate people in a democracy, otherwise it won’t work.) Leaving these kids who fall between the cracks as dependents on an overburdened welfare society already trying to shed what groups they will serve.
          What you would have is a nightmare. Europe and China are already replacing us as the centers of development and innovation, the death of public instruction in this country would be the final nail.

        • kaptinemo says:

          DC, my first 4 years of schooling were courtesy of Catholic school, and I can only say the methodologies were not based upon any theory-du-jour, but concentrated on two main things: classroom discipline and emphasis on what could best be described as a kind of gestalt method. And, needless to say, with tuition, the classes were generally small, 30 or less students.

          For example, I was not taught to dissect sentences into each component word, but to read the whole sentence, and then grasp, through Socratic method of questioning courtesy of the teacher, as to what I thought it meant, as opposed to what was actually said, and taught to differentiate the two.

          Basic math was a matter of constant repetition of the addition, subtraction and multiplication tables. (This is ca. 1962 I am talking about; no computers.) I didn’t get that ‘New Math’ BS until I reached public school, and like most others, was totally confused by it.

          But most of all, there was discipline in the classroom. You act up in class, even just talking to another student, and you’d get a warning from these clicker things the teachers had ready, and they’d bop you on the head with them if you didn’t get the message the first time. Coming from the strict upbringing I had, all that was normal. And therein lies the key. It wasn’t up to the school to prep students for that, it was supposed to already be there courtesy of your family.

          This forced you to focus on what you were supposed to do. And one more thing: nobody ever suggested any limits to our abilities. I was in 2nd grade when I was drawing maps of the Netherlands, Bolivia, etc. by learning how to trace their outlines from illustrations in books, that sort of thing. All while reading about them, and having to write reports about them.

          In 2nd grade. Learned basic French in 3rd grade, and I can still rattle off some phrases…and know what I am saying, even if I butcher the pronunciation.

          But…the sad fact is, despite what the Preamble says, all men are not ‘created equal’ in the gray matter department. There are some who, no matter what method used, may just not have the mental wattage necessary. When Nature cheats you, all sales are finalized at birth, and there’s no refunds…a fact I live with every day, courtesy of the genetic flaws I have.

          I don’t have any panaceas when it comes to education. I hope you don’t believe that I am advocating anarchy; what I saw back in 1999 when I worked for that school board and saw in those classrooms might as well have been.

          In my former career, I have also been an instructor, in various organizations, In and Out of the military, and in every one I was told that I would have made a good schoolteacher, which I take as a high (no pun intended) compliment. I didn’t just provide structure.

          Because I recall how I was taught (‘Socratic’, remember?), and I also recall how frustrating it can be, to be a student and not understanding what the ‘teach’ has to say. I’d rack my poor brain for contemporary analogies, to make the subject matter relevant to those who thought it wasn’t. I was usually successful, and nothing gives me a bigger kick (besides seeing prohibs ‘get theirs’ on a debate floor) than seeing that light go in the eyes, the ‘Aha!” moment, when they ‘got it’.

          I’d like to write more, but this screed was long enough, too long. But, as they said in the first Godfather movie, like all who wind up here, you are a ‘serious man’, and deserved a detailed reply. Thank you – and all reading this – for your patience.

        • darkcycle says:

          I don’t really see where we are disagreeing here. Certainly, I know anarchy isn’t what you have in mind, so, equally as certainly some form of public instruction must survive. It must change, and change away from the current drill/drill test/test system being put in place by so called reformers. Indeed, it WOULD seem that the idea change is impossible would be an odd position for an occupant of this here couch to take. And change is needed. But throwing the baby out with the bathwater would be completely at odds with sanity.
          Trust the teachers, I say. No teacher can reach every student, even though they may want to. The ones who didn’t inspire at least kept your brain functioning and ready for the ones who planted the spark.
          The model of instruction can and does change.
          And thank you for taking the time to respond, Kap’n. I like a quality discussion.

  7. Tony Aroma says:

    The intention isn’t to reduce drug use. The intention is punishment, and in that respect, suspensions and other similar policies are very successful. Just like prohibition in general, which is likewise very successful when it comes to punishing people for their undesirable behavior.

    • claygooding says:

      “undesirable human behavior”,,since every animal on earth is hard wired to seek the pleasures of it’s existence.

  8. Servetus says:

    I am constantly amazed by the ability of the drug war hoax to create mayhem and murder. Are we to assume that simply because a few American corporations want to drug test children and everyone else that the horrible consequences of prohibition are to be ignored?

    In my history readings, I encounter seemingly trivial cultural practices that morph into astonishing levels of harm and social destruction, contrary to the laws of physics and the expectation of equal and opposite reactions; Newtonian physics fails to explain human craziness.

    Because if the drug testing and rehab industries are in any way behind the continuation of the American drug war, then they are also the seed that’s been generating mass graves in Mexico since the beginning of the Calderon presidency:

    According to the attorney general’s office, 147 clandestine graves containing a total of 564 bodies or remains have been discovered since January 2008. The Federal Police has a record of 55 mass graves containing 736 remains since 2007. Between the 27 states that responded — though several said the information was classified — 228 clandestine gravesites have been unearthed, containing at least 972 bodies or remains, exceeding both federal counts.

    Meanwhile, Mexicans are overtaken by the sense that their country now sits atop a giant graveyard.

    “Our children are today children of a Mexico that, because of the violence that has been incubating in a delinquent state, has become a huge mass grave,” the parents of the 43 missing students said during a news conference held last month by Tlachinollan, a human rights groups in Guerrero.

  9. Duncan20903 says:


    Good grief, in one of the episodes of the now retired CSI: New York the CSIs not only collected all of the finger prints within 13 miles of the crime scene they did drugs screens too. I do mean that they actually tested the finger prints. They were stumped for a while because the finger prints all tested positive for “T.H.C.” I was stumped because they did a super glue fog to find the prints.

    Isn’t technology wonderful? Especially the fictional kind. But sooner than later the Frankensteins are going to invent a chemical sniffer machine or some equivalent and mount it right next to the Red light camera. However that machine works it will pretty much make it impossible to enjoy cannabis unless it’s on the approved list when we step over that line.

    • claygooding says:

      They have a machine now that is paying off like a slot machine,,the non-tokers nose.
      That is why they stick their nose in your car if you roll your window down,,that is why that frustrated cop busted a guys window in FLA when he didn’t roll the window down but held his licence and insurance up for the officer too see,,a str8 person can smell marijuana on you two or three times longer than a toker can and it is what is getting people tested for DUI’s and searched for possession.

      Edibles are safest followed by vaping,,but even vaping has an odor too it,,never vape in a closed up car and toking in a car is risk I can do without,,I stop on a country road,,a rest area and get out of the car and sit where the breeze can carry the smoke away from my hair and clothing.

    • kaptinemo says:

      “IBM and the Holocaust is the stunning story of IBM’s strategic alliance with Nazi Germany — beginning in 1933 in the first weeks that Hitler came to power and continuing well into World War II. As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the identification and cataloging programs of the 1930s to the selections of the 1940s.

      Only after Jews were identified — a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately — could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. It was a cross-tabulation and organizational challenge so monumental, it called for a computer. Of course, in the 1930s no computer existed.

      But IBM’s Hollerith punch card technology did exist. Aided by the company’s custom-designed and constantly updated Hollerith systems, Hitler was able to automate his persecution of the Jews. Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. Until now, the pieces of this puzzle have never been fully assembled. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.”

      Think it can’t happen again? The preliminaries are already completed:

      ““The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, ca 1970

      I have always said society was in a race between freedom and slavery, and technology of late has been favoring the latter. Which is why it is paramount that we get the upper hand and get cannabis re-legalized before such freedom-destroying tech is fully implemented. Doing so will be the wedge to break apart the rapidly coalescing cocoon of crypto-tyranny that’s forming around us. Regaining the rest of our freedoms will follow once the people reclaim their bodily sovereignty. If we don’t stem the tide, we’ll be reduced to an electronic version of Orwell’s Animal Farm.

      And if you want to see why I feel this way, go here and read it. And remember, this was published in 1970. The Plan has been running this long (or, as many suspect, much longer), and its almost at fruition…as Snowden’s revelations of domestic spying make clear.

      And keep in mind Brzezinski is Obama’s mentor and foreign policy adviser. Who, as an ethnic Pole, has a bone to pick with Russians, hence the latest contretemps between us and them.

  10. Drug test Wall Street, not Main Street.

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