Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Dan Bernath


There's a very simple reason why we should oppose drug-testing our
children: It doesn't work (Story, "Oconee school board may widen drug-
test policy," Tuesday).

The largest study of student drug testing ever - a National Institute
on Drug Abuse-funded survey of 76,000 students in 2003 - found no
difference in drug use rates for students subject to drug tests and
those who aren't.

The lead study author, Dr. Lloyd Johnston of the University of
Michigan, concluded, "(T)here really isn't an impact from drug testing
as practiced. ... I don't think it brings about any constructive
changes in (students') attitudes about drugs or their belief in the
dangers associated with using them."

But drug-testing students isn't just ineffective; it's
counterproductive. Students quickly learn that some drugs - marijuana,
for example - are easier to detect than others. This means children
are actually encouraged to use far more dangerous drugs, such as
methamphetamine and narcotic prescription drugs.

Even worse, students who do get ensnared by drug tests are normally
punished by being barred from extracurricular activities. While drug
testing doesn't work, we do know that children who are involved in
school activities are less likely to use drugs than those who aren't.
The last thing we need is a program that denies children at risk of
drug abuse access to the very activities that might help them.

Dan Bernath

Dan Bernath is assistant director of communications for the
Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which works to
increase public support for nonpunitive, noncoercive marijuana policies.
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