Pubdate: Mon, 02 Feb 2009
Source: Spectator, The (U of WI, Eau Claire, Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Spectator
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Frank Pellegrino's Jan. 29 column in The Spectator, there is
a downside to student drug tests. 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 in extracurricular programs.

Drug testing may also compel marijuana users to switch to harder drugs
to avoid testing positive.

This is one of the reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes
student drug testing. 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. More dangerous synthetic drugs
like methamphetamine and prescription narcotics are water-soluble and
exit the body quickly.

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 each year than
all illegal drugs combined.

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

Students who want to fight for civil rights and reform harmful drug
laws should contact students for sensible drug policy at

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.
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