Pubdate: Sun, 10 Apr 2005
Source: News & Advance, The (VA)
Copyright: 2005 Media General
Author: Robert Sharpe


Your March 27 editorial on ending drug tests for athletes was right on
target. Student involvement in after-school activities like sports has been
shown to reduce drug use. They keep kids busy during the hours they are most
likely to get into trouble.

Forcing students to undergo degrading urine tests as a prerequisite
will only discourage participation. Drug testing may also compel
marijuana users to switch to harder drugs to avoid testing positive.
Despite a short-lived high, marijuana is the only illegal drug that
stays in the human body long enough to make urinalysis a deterrent.

Marijuana's organic metabolites are fat-soluble and can linger for
days. Synthetic drugs are water-soluble and exit the body quickly.

A student who takes methamphetamine, ecstasy or OxyContin on Friday
night will likely test clean on Monday morning.

If you think students don't know this, think again. Anyone capable of
running an Internet search can find out how to thwart a drug test. The
most commonly abused drug and the one most closely associated with
violent behavior is almost impossible to detect with urinalysis. That
drug is alcohol, and it takes far more student lives every year than
all illegal drugs combined.

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

Robert Sharpe

Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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