Drug Tests Shouldn’t Weed Out Pot Use
Give me your urine. And no, it's not for some weird fetish of mine. The reason I'm asking for your liquid waste has to do with my attempts at finding employment this summer.
You see, the company that has expressed interest in hiring me has made quite a few demands.
They want me to provide proof of enrolment at the University, a recent driver's abstract, and two pieces of government-issued ID. I'm fine delivering these, though I have a problem with their fourth demand: that I complete a drug test within the next week or two.
When considering the basic test for cannabinoids, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and PCP, it seems understandable why an employer may not want to hire someone who is a heroin user, or someone who can't go 48 hours without smoking some crack. Those are what many people, including National Geographic, consider to be hard drugs — substances that are physically and psychologically addictive, and are potentially very harmful with long-term use. Even though alcohol and nicotine are legalized and not tested for, they also fall into this category.
The problem I have with the procedure is that they also test for the most widely used illicit drug in Canada, marijuana, whose testable psychoactive properties stay in a person's urine for about a month. Exactly how long depends on how much is ingested and the body fat of the user, among other things. It's a drug that over 50 per cent of Canadians have admitted to trying, and is proven to be safer than alcohol, tobacco, and aspirin, which is grouped with more damaging substances.
In California, the legalization of cannabis will be voted on this fall. Although it's not guaranteed to pass by any means, it's a sign of the changing culture. And that's just as well, because employers aren't decreasing the chances of their employees getting high on the job when they know that they usually won't be subjected to random tests once employed. What they're effectively doing is adding an arbitrary defining element to their hiring process.
I can see why the government may want to test for more illicit substances, though I don't know if they could do anything with that information. That being said, I don't see any reason why a company would make it their responsibility to enforce a law whose origin involves racial prejudice, moral panic, and a lack of informed debate.
It frustrates me that I presently risk losing a job because I enjoy mind-altering states just as much as 99 per cent of people do. There are many sources and studies available online to back up all the things I've said, and though I'm speaking to a university audience here, I believe there are still large campus populations who need to educate themselves on illicit substances, be it marijuana or otherwise.
I won't ask for your urine again. It probably wouldn't be warm enough anyway to do me much good. Though until marijuana is legalized or tests remove THC from their checklists, I'm left counting the days until I may light up again. Maybe I'll enjoy a few hits of LSD to make the time pass in a more entertaining fashion. Thank God they don't test for that, because I'm addicted.
- Article from The Gateway.