Holmes was right, drug tests can be beat

Sherlock Holmes had it right. Bob Marley  not so much.

UnknownThis piece is about drugs and drug testing.

What Holmes did was imbibe in opium, which is washed out of the system within a day or so, while the residuals of cannibis remain for weeks, the  point being that Holmes could more easily pass a random drug test than Marley even though his choice of drugs was and continues to be more dangerous and damaging than Marley’s.

Currently used and widely advertised drug tests will have a very hard time catching heroin, alcohol or cocaine than marijuana. And drug testing has become a big business these days. And that, more than anything, is what it is. The most identified drug in a random test is THC or a relative of it, and study after study has shown it to be less damaging to workplace safety than is alcohol, which is seldom caught.

I worked in a record shop in the seventies for about 5 years.  One day a co-worker came in and was acting strange.  Eventually, I asked what was wrong and he told me it was the first day in years he had not gotten high before work.  He was so off, I wanted him to go find a J and get normal.

Years later, when I was a senior manager at what was then the world’s largest accounting and consulting firm, they came up with an alcohol and drug use policy which stated, among other things, that having an illegal substance or alcohol in your system while at work was grounds for immediate termination.

My first question was sorry os smart-ass: What if I visited Oregon where use of pot was not illegal and had a J and then, came back to Tulsa with the THC in my system?

The second not so much, because it stuck at the very heart of the accounting profession at that time: alcohol. When I started at my first large firm in 1981, it was not unusual to have a beer or cocktail at lunch on any given day. Even later, when the policy was implemented, it was not unusual to have a couple of pops when out to lunch with a client.  When I asked one of the partners about it, he said implementation in this situation would be on a case-by-case basis. Now, this guy didm’t like me, and I suspected he would be watching closely when I came in from a long lunch with a client. (He had been trying to get rid of me for years.)

I told him the policy was unenforceable and possibly illegal and refused to sign it.  He told me they could fire me for refusing to sign the policy.  I still refused.  ( A pattern: when the record shop was sold to a big eas-coast outfit, they required all employees to take a lie detector, which I refused.  They threatened to fire me, and yet, I hung on. These tests are now illegal.) I was at the accounting firm about three years after this.  About every three months or so, I would get a letter from the national HR office informing me I could be fired for non-compliance. Every time I got the letter, I sent the same letter back advising them that the policy as written and explained was unenforceable and I would not sign it until it was changed.

No, I did not get fired for lack of compliance.

Now, the drug testing game is big business and the hottest topic is testing any recipient of public assistance.  Makes sense: if I am subjected to drug testing to make a living and pay taxes, then the moochers who take my taxes ought to at least be drug-free. It is an easy sell, as are most issues surrounding the so-called sin items, like alcohol and tobacco and drugs.  It is easy to get people on board. I am not sure I would get away with refusing anymore even though I refused out of principle, not out of any fear of being caught. Things have changed a lot in 25 years.

We tried to make the world a better place int he 1920’s and realized we couldn’t legislate sobriety. In most cases, we have given up trying top legislate sexuality.  Of course issues in the sexual realm concerning children are off limits, as well they should be, but for all other issues, we pretty much let consenting adults do whatever it is they want to do, just so they do not do it in front of us.

Same with morality.

But not drugs.  Especially not marijuana, the use of which puts more people in prison than any other thing.  I was told in high school that pot was a gateway drug, that it led to harder drugs, and that this is why it is bad. It does lead to harder drugs, but not in the way those saying it int he 1970’s high schools meant. Go to prison and learn about hard drugs. Want to avoid being clipped in a drug test, avoid pot and go for coke or horse.

The seemingly-well intended noise about welfare recipients not being on drugs is just that: noise.

Where big business is behind a law, as the $2 – $3 Billion drug testing industry is behind the laws requiring testing of welfare recipients before they get any help, one has to wonder what the motives are. A recent article in The Nation disclosed that of the $30 million is state-required testing in Texas, $27 million went to one company. If the profits were not there, would there be such  push?

Maybe these ALEC-written laws are just looking out for our tax dollars by trimming the welfare rolls, or maybe they really do have the public-interest at heart by lowering the use of drugs in the country (by the way, the one it will affect will probably be legal in most states soon).  Maybe, but as Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein, “follow the money.” When so much gathers together, intentions are often muddled.

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