Drug testing biased, hypocritical

Editors: Bibb County is taking an already bad policy and making it worse by firing employees who test positive for drugs.

Few Americans are aware of the limitations of drug testing, limitations which drug testing profiteers don't readily volunteer.

Urinalysis is virtually useless when it comes to detecting hard drugs. As such it can have the counterproductive effect of encouraging hard drug use when forced upon smokers of relatively harmless marijuana.

The shortcomings of hair testing are more sinister. Dark-haired individuals are more likely to test positive when hair tests are used, while fair-haired drug users have a good chance of escaping detection. This inherent racial bias is reason enough to avoid using hair tests, especially in light of the fact that blacks already bear the brunt of anti-drug enforcement.

Employees should be judged on their job performance, not the contents of their hair or urine.

The most unproductive employees I've ever worked with are alcoholics who come to work hung over, not those who smoke the occasional joint on weekends. Of course, it's perfectly legal to destroy one's health with alcohol, so I

imagine the "tough on drugs" public administrators in Bibb County are not concerned with the hypocrisy of drug testing, nor the impact it will have on productivity.

Robert Sharpe

Students for Sensible Drug Policy - George Washington University

Letters for Thursday, July 6, 2000