Drug Testing Policies

Drug testing has been instrumental in the drug war’s mission to identify people who use drugs and to strip them of rights, freedoms, opportunities and benefits. Drug testing policies were initially designed to protect worker safety in certain professions, but have now infiltrated almost every setting outside the home. Mandatory drug testing is routine in many schools, workplaces and hospitals, and people who test positive can be excluded from educational opportunities, fired, and denied public benefits. In recent years more than 20 states have proposed bills calling for drug testing of families receiving federal aid through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, despite the fact that this policy is fiscally, scientifically and constitutionally unsound. One of the most glaringly counterproductive drug testing policies is random student drug testing, which treats students like criminal suspects and deprives them of the trusting environment needed to conduct open and honest discussions about drug use. Additionally, students who test positive for drugs are often barred from extracurricular activities, one of the most effective known deterrents for drug use. Drug testing is also a near universal feature of the criminal justice system in the United States, with most probationers and parolees required to undergo drug testing regardless of the nature of their underlying offense or history of drug use. These drug testing policies are a huge infringement on personal privacy and have gone far beyond any reasonable mandate to improve public safety. DPA is working to promote rational drug testing policies rooted in science and public health rather than conjecture and fear.