It’s fairly well-established by all unbiased sources that drug testing is unreliable, inaccurate, and completely ineffective—so why do some people still support it and want to expand it? Well, in my experience I have noticed that there are precisely two kinds of people who support or accept the drug-testing culture: the uninformed and the invested (with some mild overlap, of course).
While these can be companies that have uncritically bought the dishonest sales pitch from drug testing company reps (one area of overlap), this group is mostly composed of ordinary citizens who simply assume that drug testing works to keep them safe from the “bad guys”. These people range from the apathetic who simply accept it because they’ve never thought about it one way or another to the cowardly who actively support it and want to expand it until everyone is forced to submit to it on every level of society because it makes them “feel” safer.
The former group can be easier to talk to, as they have never given it much thought. Often, these are younger people who have grown up in this corrupt system and have never known anything different. To them, everyone has always had to piss in a cup to eat, and it’s just “the way things work”, right? WRONG! Of course, this albeit uninformed younger generation is also the most likely to support marijuana legalization and oppose the Drug War, and so tends to be more open to arguments against the various failed methods of the failed Drug War as well as opposed to things like government spying programs. Simply explain to them how drug testing works and why it is inaccurate and unreliable, and once they are informed about the other side of the equation (the side that has been systematically silenced since the eighties by Drug War profiteers and their witch-hunt techniques) they tend to agree with you.
That second group, the active cowards, is where overlap seems to occur most. These people tend to be more misinformed than uninformed, and they have embraced that misinformation because of their inherent cowardice and authoritarianism. They have bought into the Reefer Madness lie and live in constant fear of the “scary addicts”. They don’t want to hear about how drug testing doesn’t work, or how addiction actually works or why “law and order” police state “solutions” can not, have not, and will never work against a problem like addiction. They may often get angry enough at times to assault you or try to get you fired because stripping the civil rights from every human being makes them “feel” safe, and how dare you undermine their security theater blanket like that? These people tend to lack any logic or common sense regarding the issue as well, and will make arguments that are either long debunked or completely baffling. As far as they are concerned, promoting a corporate police state on every single citizen is their heroic duty, they are heroes for forcing you to submit to drug testing and you are a detriment to society for arguing against it.
As such, these people also have an investment in drug testing culture and in promoting the Drug War, because to admit to the facts that show they are wrong and have always been wrong…well, they not only lose their security theater blanket and the warm fuzzy comforting illusion of safety, they also lose their self-image of being American Heroes fighting the Evil Drug Addicts and the ability to aggrandize themselves by looking down on people with addictions as inferior monsters who deserve imprisonment and death, rather than as the average people with a disease that needs to be treated like the public health issue it is. They lose their false sense of security AND their ability to see themselves as superior to other people by default, and to keep that they don’t care how many people’s lives are ruined. For that they would kill someone like myself for having the temerity to speak the truth on the subject.
This group is primarily composed of corporate entities—both the companies that directly profit from drug testing programs (such as drug testing companies, drug rehab clinics, etc.) and companies that indirectly profit from drug testing programs (insurance companies that want to screen out potential hires with inconvenient albeit protected health problems, companies that realize they are getting massive tax breaks and government subsidies on insurance for forcing tax-deductible drug tests on their employees). There are also government entities that value the ability to spy on American citizens internally and externally without cause who have been working for some time to find loopholes by which they can circumvent the Bill of Rights, as well as individuals who work for any of these companies and so earn their bread and butter by violating the flesh of their fellow citizens and have every motivation to keep drug testing alive as long as possible for their own job security.
Needless to say, the people in this group will lie, cheat, and do anything in their considerable power to keep this going, and there is no use in trying to make them see reason because all they care about is their own selfish interests. They don’t care about the rights or wrongs of it , so long as the dollars keep falling into their pockets. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe the ACLU in their briefing on Workplace Drug Testing http://www.lectlaw.com/files/emp02.htm:
“The drug screens used by most companies are not reliable. These tests yield false positive results at least 10 percent, and possibly as much as 30 percent, of the time. Experts concede that the tests are unreliable. At a recent conference, 120 forensic scientists, including some who worked for manufacturers of drug tests, were asked, "Is there anybody who would submit urine for drug testing if his career, reputation, freedom or livelihood depended on it?" Not a single hand was raised.”
Do you see that? When talking to people like you or I, they would tell you all about how totally great this practice is and how totally reliable it is and how no one should have any qualms about submitting a sampler platter of intimate bodily fluids to their employer or anyone else for drug testing, but when it’s just them….well, you see what happens. These people know they are running what is at the very least a product with little to no value and at most an outright scam trade. They simply do not care about right or wrong, only about profit. They forced their untested and unproven product on a frightened and ignorant America in a moral panic based on deliberately skewed data, and they continue in that same vein today using the same dishonest arguments and, yes, the same methods. (See “Drug Testing: A Bad Investment” and “Your Analysis is Faulty (How to lie with drug statistics” in the post “Anti-Drug Testing Facts: A Helpful List of Links to Help You Fight” on this blog, tagged “tools and resources”). Only now they ride on a different kind of misinformation, the self-misinformation wherein people assume that the drug testing companies must be so much more accurate now after all this time—an assumption that only makes sense if you are already uninformed or have bought into the drug testing proponents’ original misinformation.
In reality, they are no better now than they were before, and why should they be? When you’re riding on public ignorance, moral panic, and deliberately skewed data, why would you actually improve your product? By the time people realize it’s inaccurate and unreliable they’ll simply assume that after thirty years of forcing everyone to piss in a cup there surely have to have been important improvements, and they can ride on that new misinformed assumption to profit further. Better yet if you can keep people like me silent about the facts out of fear and convince the uninformed and misinformed that any opposition to drug testing is an admission of addiction and that there is no other possible reason someone might oppose drug testing—and since you’re the only game in town to prove that true or false, you’re set! You can just make sure that any employees who are sent for drug testing because they vocally opposed drug testing get a positive result regardless of whether they actually use, thereby discrediting them as addicts who are simply trying to protect their addiction! Mark my words, when marijuana is inevitably legalized, the Drug War is inevitably dismantled, and drug testing is inevitably compromised and eventually eliminated, there will be a lot of facts coming to light about the drug testing industries many crimes. And they know it, and they’re running scared now that we’re at the tipping point with medical marijuana and jumped two states in at once for total legalization.
Most of the overlap in this group is in the aforementioned uninformed and misinformed companies that have uncritically assumed that the drug testing sales pitch was kosher without making any actual attempt to find out any facts outside of that bubble. Unfortunately, these companies also tend to get invested just like that second group of the uninformed, the cowards, either because they cannot lose face and admit they were wrong to start drug testing their employees and potential hires or because they learn of how much they can clean up in government subsidies and tax breaks, at which point they fall firmly into the “invested” bin and can no longer see reason or facts for the money that is falling into their laps.
So there you have the two kinds of people who accept and support drug testing. I hope my understanding here can shed some light on how these people think, and perhaps it can help some of you out there in your dealings with these benighted individuals.