The justifications for drug testing are part of the presently fashionable debate concerning restoring America's "competitiveness." Drugs, it has been revealed, are responsible for rampant absenteeism, reduced output, and poor quality work. But is drug testing in fact rationally related to the resurrection of competitiveness? Will charging the atmosphere of the workplace with the fear of excretory betrayal honestly spur productivity? Much noise has been made about rehabilitating the worker using drugs, but to date the vast majority of programs end with the simple firing or the not hiring of the abuser. This practice may exacerbate, not alleviate, the nation's productivity problem. If economic rehabilitation is the ultimate goal of drug testing, then criteria abandoning the rehabilitation of the drug-using worker is the purest of hypocrisy and the worst of rationalization.The concluding paragraph of "Constitutional Law: The Fourth Amendment and Drug Testing in the Workplace," Tim Moore, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 10, No. 3 (Summer 1987), pp. 762-768.
Seeing this reminded me of the culture shock I felt coming to California from Oregon. In Oregon, I was drug tested at most of my jobs. This was before I ever had even seen drugs, so I passed with flying colors and it was not much of an issue. But when I moved to CaliforniaI was suprised these tests were no longer required of me. As my boss at the time explained, "If [in California] we required drug tests, we wouldn't be able to hire anyone." In my experiences, this is suprisingly true.
What does it say, when the United States' center of technology, i.e. the home of it's brightest engineers, can't do drug testing for fear of losing it's brightest stars? Obviously the drugs are not as damaging as they say, as we continue to lead the world in new technology and inovation and it all stems from this area of weed, shrooms, acid, and extascy. Does this help the inovation? Spur the creativity? I don't know. I think, in some ways, it does.
But what concerns me, 15 years after the writing of the above document, companies are still far more likely to fire you than rehabilitate you. It is just one more way for them to reinforce how ultimately replacable each and every one of us is.
My contract, when I was with Brainstorm, read that if I was convicted of a drug related crime that the company reserves the right to fire me on those grounds alone. I could have perfect attendence, never late, get all my projects done on time, basicly have no marksagainst me in HR's file on me, and they could fire me for this alone. To add to this, the law assumes anyone connected to a drug user is guilty. If I'm going to a party with a friend, and he has drugs on him, and I'm driving, I'm also guilty. Whether I have knowledge of what the friend is carrying or not. And I could lose my job.
While, on the state level, some small progress has been made to allow medical marijauna, and California is beginning to treat addiction as an illness, the has been little other progress. And on the federal level, there has been no progress at all.
Now that most of Europe is decrimanalizing soft drugs such as cannibas, will the United States finally follow suit? Spain, England, the Neatherlands, etc have all shown that by legalizing it, taxing it, and using the money toward rehab for those that need it have allowed the legal system to save money and dedicate it's energies to more important crimes, they have also reduced crime in general, and improved the quality control on these currently illicite items.
What will it take for The United States to change it's views? What's your opinion?