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 ata climax. In general, Drug testing is a way to detect illegal drug use and deterit, usually by Urinalysis.
Drug testing in the United States violates acitizen’s right to unreasonable search and seizure’s along with jeopardizingone’s freedom. Drug testing is not only an unreliable invasion of a person’sprivacy but it assumes that one is guilty before submitting to the test. Drugtesting began to take place in the mid 1960’s when drugs like Marijuana,hallucinogens and other drugs were becoming widespread (Stencel, pp. 201).
Themilitary implemented mandatory drug testing because of the widespread use andthe number of Vets that were returning home because of addiction. Ronald Reaganpushed for employers to implement drug testing and even had himself screened forillegal drugs to encourage employers and to reduce opposition to testing (Stencel,pp. 200). “The increased concern about drug abuse has, in part, ben the resultof the early 1986 appearance on the streets of crack-a new, powerfully addictiveform of cocaine-and the growth of cocaine addiction” (Berger, 12).Order now
PresidentReagan later called for a second “war on drugs” campaign. In October of1986, President Reagan signed into law a 1. 7 billion dollar antidrug bill,called the “Drug-Free Workplace Order”. In addition to the bill, Reaganinstructed his cabinet officers to create a plan to begin drug testing forfederal civil employees (Berger, 14). Drug testing thus begun a sharp climb intothe area of private employers. In November of 1988 Congress passed an Actrequiring grant recipients or federal contractors to maintain drug-freeworkplaces.
Most of the employers set up voluntary testing programs and manyemployees began to sue, claiming that individual testing is a violation ofprivacy rights. The argument is that the employees are being deprived of theirFourth Amendment protection. Many believe that government testing programsshould be unconstitutional unless the authorities have either reasonablesuspicion or probable cause that the individuals being tested are on drugs. Tojustify the use of private employer testing, President Bush said in 1989 that”Drug abuse among American workers costs businesses anywhere from $60 billionto $100 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, drug-relatedaccidents, medical claims, and theft” (Horgan, 19). This claim was derivedfrom a source that interviewed families that were 28% lower in overall incomethan 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’sof 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 andin state and local government” (Stencel, 201). This created many controversieswithin the American workplace and in National Treasury Employees Union v. VonRaab decision, the Supreme Court upheld that drug testing was legal as long asit outweighs privacy rights (James). Then, in 1991 Congress passed the OmnibusTransportation and Employment Testing Act, which would extend drug testing inthe United States.
Throughout the rest of the 90’s drug tests were extended tothe outermost sectors of society causing drugs to become a significant issueduring election times, although politicians are never tested themselves. TheFourth Amendment of the Constitution was created because of the rough treatmentof colonists by the British. The British restricted trade and travel and thisgave way to smuggling. “British soldiers frequently conducted unrestrictedhouse-to-house searches.
People were forced to keep their private records andother personal information on their person or hidden in their home or businessto avoid exposure and possible arrest” (Berger, 102). The Fourth Amendment waspart of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights to protect one’s privacy andmaintain search and seizure guarantees. The right to privacy was described bySupreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis as “the right to be let alone-the mostcomprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. ” TheFourth Amendment of the U. S.
Constitution guarantees the “right of the peopleto be secure in their person, houses, papers and effects against unreasonablesearch and seizure” except upon probable cause. Random drug testing threatensthe Fourth Amendment and has been called suspicion by association. This is tosay that it is not possible to justify a search of one person because they aresimilar to another. “Suppose a certain neighborhood has a high incidence ofviolent crime. The police cannot defend a blanket search of all residents byclaiming that there were many armed individuals among them, they say” (Berger,52). “Random drug testing assumes that every student is using drugs until theyprove to the contrary by submitting a urine sample,” (ACLU, 1) In general, thegovernment cannot search a person without reason to suspect that he or she isguilty of wrongdoing.
There is an exception, however, in limited circumstances,where the search is in special need, the government has a compelling interest inthe search or the privacy interests affected by the test are minimal. In RandomDrug testing there are no Fourth Amendment rights to be maintained. “The rightto privacy is, as determined by the Supreme Court to be an implicit guarantee ofthe Constitution” (Holtorf, 132). Drug tests reveal many areas of one’s lifewhich may want to be hidden to their employer or to the outside world.
“Drugtests can reveal the use of contraceptives, pregnancy, or medication fordepression, epilepsy, diabetes, insomnia, schizophrenia, high blood pressure,and heart trouble” (Holtorf, 132). The disclosure of this type of informationcan be both embarrassing and harmful to one’s social and professional career. In some cases this has led to loss of employment for discriminatedindividual’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 testand it came back negative. He was then asked to provide hair for a test and whenhe did this the test came back positive for drugs. Aden was stunned and the armydenied his request for a DNA test of the hair to prove it was his.
SergeantAdens received a bad conduct discharge in July 1998. “For a soldier to losehis self-esteem, family and military respect is a bit too much based on thestrength 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 afalsity in our Drug testing system. “In 1966 the U.
S. Supreme Court ruled thatcompulsory blood tests are bodily searches. The Fourth Amendment, it said ,applied to such searches. A compulsory blood test could be conducted only ifthere 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 specificreason to believe that this person is using drugs. In all court cases, the courthas ruled in favor of the plaintiff stating that the body and bodily fluids areconsidered in the Fourth Amendment privacy clause. Yet in Drug Testing this isnot the case. In Allen v.
City of Marietta, the Georgian court felt constrainedby 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 homeis considered invading privacy, what about one’s urine? This is the mostpersonal and private information one can give out. Another clause in the FourthAmendment in the Constitution is that of Due Process. The Fourth Amendmentclearly states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or propertywithout due process of the law.
” Pre-employment drug screening completelydefies this in that it gives a prospective employee no chance of challenging thetest. The job seeker is not considered for employment without even knowing thatit was because of a positive drug test. There have been many cases that a personis eliminated from the job pool because of a positive outcome of a drug test andthe person is not a drug user. The prospective employee has no chance to explaina positive test due to a prescription drug or certain foods. It is possible tobe a job-seeker and never obtain a job because of positive results on a drugtest due to a prescription drug, unless the prospective employer uses their timeto show the results. Drug testing without a prior suspicion or probable causecan also lead to the absence of Equal protection under the law, the FourteenthAmendment (Holtorf, 135).
“The Fourteenth Amendment was cited as protectionagainst selection of a group of athletes for testing by the National CollegiateAthletic Association without demonstrating a likelihood that drug use wasprevalent in that population” (Holtorf, 136). Drug tests today areconsiderably weak. Mistakes and errors swarm the vast business of drug testing. “Clinical laboratories are not experienced with the special requirements forspecimen collection, analysis, storage, documentation, transport, andhandling” (McBay, 33B).
Often times, simple mistakes such as mislabeling orreporting errors are the reason for a positive turnout on a drug test. “Because drug testing has become a very competitive industry, laboratories areimplementing cost cutting measures and attempting to test increasing numbers ofspecimens quicker and cheaper, which is causing testing accuracy to worsen evenfurther” (McBay, 33B). Often times, a positive result has to be protested inorder to have the test sent to a more elaborate, expensive laboratory. Anexample of this was with a Heavyweight boxing match in which the boxer, TimWitherspoon was knocked out in the first round by James Smith and a week afterthe fight Witherspoon was tested positive for Marijuana use. Witherspoonprotested this and it was later found that there was an error in identifying thespecimen.
“Dr. Don H. Catlin, chief of clinical pharmacology at the Universityof California at Los Angeles, says that drug-testing firms “vary tremendouslyin quality from laboratory to laboratory as well as within the same laboratoryon a day-to-day basis””(Berger, 42). The reason is because the personreviewing the tests needs to be both competent and knowledgeable in this fieldconsidering that this is someone’s future at stake. “The bulk of the errorscould be attributed to inadequate personnel, poor management, broken chain ofcustody, faulty maintenance, and faulty admissions of reports and records,rather than the tests themselves” (Holtorf, 63).
Lack of education andexperience often play a part in the accuracy ratings of the differentinstitutions. “In the Spring of 1985, experts at the Centers for DiseaseControl in Atlanta found a high rate of inaccuracy among the nation’sdrug-testing laboratories. A study of 13 laboratories serving 262 drug-treatmentcenters in the United States revealed that all had performed unsatisfactorilyand had failed to identify correctly even half of the samples for four out offive drugs tested. ” (Berger, 43). “Only 85 of the estimated 1,200laboratories in the United States meet federal standards for accuracy, qualifiedlab personnel, and proper documentation and record keeping” (Holtorf, 60). Society is often misled on the accuracy of the laboratories and many of theoffices are performing much below the level in which they are portrayed.
Trueresults 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. Thisform of drug testing is considered less invasive and harder to pass. Hairtesting can obtain information on drugs that were done as long as three monthsprior to the day of testing. The question of discrimination, accuracy andpurpose of the testing raise the most questions.
Contamination of the hair isalso a factor in the decline of accuracy of this test. The hair ofAfrican-Americans binds drugs into the roots of the hair ten to fifty times morethan that of a Caucasian (Holtorf, 104). This is extremely discriminatorybecause 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 ofdrugs than lighter hair after ingestion at the same amount of drugs” (Stencel,199).
There have been numerous studies conducted that show that when twoindividuals ingest the same amount of drugs, the darker complected, darkerhaired one will show greater concentration of the drug. In two different casestwo African-American women were tested positive to Drug use through hair testingand now are pending investigations. “Last August, Althea Jones and AdrianMcClure, along with six other Chicago African-Americans who say they receivederroneous hair test results when applying for the Police Academy, filedcomplaints of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment OpportunityCommission. The group is considering suing both the city of Chicago andPsychemedics” (Kean, 1) Many scientists have confirmed that there is no truedistinction between the drug being smoked or being in the same area or room fora great duration of time in the result of the hair test.
Also, because of thelow level of tolerance in the testing even a second hand experience to a drugsuch as Marijuana can cause a positive result in a drug test. Dyeing of hairalso has different effects for types of hair. Using bleach, perming or excessiveUV exposure can decrease the chance of testing positive in a Hair test. “Forthese reasons, the ACLU strongly opposes hair testing. “Every reputablescientific organization in America rejects the use of hair testing foremployment purposes,” (Stencel, 199).
“The Food and Drug Administration, theDepartment of Transportation, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and theSociety of Forensic Toxicologists all raise serious questions about the accuracyof hair testing. “The consensus of scientific opinion is that there are stilltoo many unanswered questions for it to be used in employment situations,”said Edward Cone, the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s leading researcher onthe test, in June 1998. In a recent interview, Cone said that hair testing “isnot ready for use yet, where people’s lives are at stake” (Kean, 2). OurPoliticians in the United States are not tested for Drugs. This is quitealarming that the idols that we vote into office and make out laws are somehowabove the law when in comes to Drug testing. “In late September, the WhiteHouse refused requests from congressional investigators seeking informationabout the jobs held by those in the special drug testing program.
“Yourrequest amounts to asking us to be complicitous in a methodical, broad scaleinvasion of privacy,” White House Counsel Jack Quinn wrote in a letter toHouse Civil Service Subcommittee Chairman John Mica. ” (York, 7). Even the manwho the leader of our great nation. The one man who holds the greatest power andreceives the most respect in the world has fallen into drugs.
“There isevidence 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 witnessedthe governor ingesting drugs” (York, 7). “While Congress pushed for moresmall businesses to do drug testing, it refused to submit to drug testing, itrefused to submit to drug testing for congressmen and their staffs, claiming itwas too undignified and possibly unconstitutional” (Stencel, 205). It isn’tfair for a Congress that enacts laws to require the people to undergo drug testsnot submit themselves to the same level of testing. Drug testing in our countrydoes have its benefits.
Yet there are so many disadvantages and holes in Drugtesting that it costs our country billions of dollars every year. EmploymentDrug testing is a proven failure, the only gain is the gain of public funds andreputations that politicians have gained through their active role in Drugtesting. Drug testing is not decreasing drug abuse, it is being used todiscriminate thousands and ruin lives of millions of others. The FourthAmendment is a cornerstone of our counties Democracy, Drug testing needs to beremoved from our everyday lives to ensure that we maintain this Democracy andcontinue to live our lives the “American way” as the framers of theConstitution intended. BibliographyAmerican Civil Liberties Union. New Jersey judge blocks drug testing ofstudent athletes.
New Jersey, 1997. Berger, Gilda. Drug Testing. New York:Impact book, 1987. Holtorf, Kent. Ur-ine Trouble.
Scottsdale: StephanieCartozian, 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 drugtesting. ” 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 atwhite house high” The American Spectator.
V29, pp. 20-26. 1996.