Drug Testing

.. obable 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 someones 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 nations 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 laboratorys 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 complected, 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. “Last August, 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 Psychemedics” (Kean, 1) Many scientists have confirmed that there is no true distinction between the drug 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. “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 Abuses leading researcher on the test, in June 1998. In a recent interview, Cone said that hair testing “is not ready for use yet, where peoples 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, 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 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 Lasaters parties. “Id 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 isnt 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 counties Democracy, Drug testing needs to be removed from our everyday lives to ensure that we maintain this Democracy and continue to live our lives the “American way” as the framers of the Constitution intended. Bibliography American Civil Liberties Union.

New Jersey judge blocks drug testing of student athletes. New Jersey, 1997. Berger, Gilda. Drug Testing. New York: Impact book, 1987. Holtorf, Kent.

Ur-ine Trouble. Scottsdale: Stephanie Cartozian, 1998. Horgan, J. Test Negative–A look at the “evidence” justyifying illicit-drug tests. Scientific American, March 1990; 262(3):18-22. James, Jeannette C. “The constitutionality of federal employee drug testing.” The Amerifcan University Law Review, Fall 1998.

Kean, Leslie. “More than a hair off.” The Progressive. 63 no.5, 32-34. May 1999. McBay, AJ.

Drug-analysis technology-pitfalls and problems of drug testing. Clin Chem. 1987;33:33B-40B. Stencel, Sandra L. Issues for Debate in American Public Policy. Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1998.

York, Byron. “Fast times at white house high” The American Spectator. V29, pp.20-26. 1996.