Pubdate: Tue, 09 Apr 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2002 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


The Sun's editorial "A high C and a drug test" (March 31) was right on 
target. The U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of an 
Oklahoma school district's drug testing policy, but there are compelling 
health reasons to oppose the invasive policy.

Student involvement in extracurricular activities has been shown to reduce 
drug use. Forcing students to undergo degrading drug tests as a 
prerequisite will only discourage such activities.

Drug testing may also compel smokers of relatively harmless marijuana to 
switch to harder drugs to avoid testing positive. Marijuana is the only 
drug that stays in the body long enough to make urinalysis a deterrent. 
Synthetic drugs are water-soluble and exit the body quickly. A student who 
takes ecstasy or heroin on Friday night will likely test clean on Monday 
morning. If you think students don't know this, think again. Anyone capable 
of running a search on the Internet can find out how to thwart a drug test. 
And the most abused drug is almost impossible to detect with urinalysis. 
That drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives every year than all 
illegal drugs combined.

Instead of wasting money on counter-productive drug tests, schools should 
invest in reality-based drug education.

Robert Sharpe Washington

The writer is a program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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