One of the issues that has always frustrated me regarding drug testing [THE FIX, FEBRUARY] is the blatant unfairness of the idea or the program itself. I would wager that the statistical percentage of accidents and drug use in states that allow (or demand) employers to test is no more nor less than those states where employers do not feel the need to do so. But leaving the morass of statistics aside for the moment, there is an inherent social and class unfairness within Oregon’s drug testing processes.
Many employers (legal, creative, communications, engineering, etc.) have no drug-testing policies. So whether one is required to test or not is dependent upon what type of industry one works in. It is most often employees who do physical labor, and who have the least assets, education, or social status, who are required to take drug tests. I have worked in environments where the blue-collar (union) staff was randomly tested and the office staff (non-union) was not.
In this society, most of us are drug users; it’s just that some molecules have been determined legal, and some not. If you drink a beer or have a cigarette, you’re a drug user.
The drug-testing process in Oregon is heavily weighted against a specific economic and social class. If we are truly going to be serious about drug use in this state, we should test all employees in all jobs (even yours) for both illegal and legal drugs.
Drugs in the workplace should not be tolerated. If anybody is using drugs in the workplace, then they should be fired. You should be able to give your employer a full day’s work without being high. However, if I smoke a joint after work, then it’s my time, not the employer’s. You have to also look at what type of drug an individual chooses to use.
The death drugs — heroin, meth, crack, coke — produce effects that are pretty easy to identify as counterproductive and will show up in the employee’s performance. That is when an employer should step in and not before. The control freaks forget that Americans are a free, don’t-tread-on-me type of people. We resent being told what we can do with our free time.
I am a recovering drug addict with two years clean. I can remember working under the influence of meth and wishing my employer enforced random drug screening, because maybe then I would have seen that I had a problem. The thing is, addicts don’t care; they are selfish. I know I was. I didn’t care about my employer. All I cared about was getting loaded again, even if it was at work, during work, before work or on my lunch break.
Now that I have been clean for a short time, I am pro-drug screening, whether it is for pre-employment or if it is random. An addict may need to lose their job to realize that they have a problem, but sometimes it takes much more than that. The problem is that there is not enough funding help out there for addicts to get help.
I agree that many competent employees would be lost due to drug tests. But rather than stricter policies, which I am not necessarily opposed to, I believe that more effective tests need to be implemented. To my knowledge, most tests used will detect toxins in the system for up to a month from the initial usage. This is unfair evidence to terminate an employee. Just as John Murphy stated in the article, “I’ve empathized with workers on marijuana coming off the weekend.”
Many responsible users do not use prior to or during work hours, which is no different than an employee having a cocktail or beer after work. As long as they are sober and ready to work the next day, it’s their personal agenda and it shouldn’t put their job at risk. I realize it sounds as if I’m promoting illegal drug use, but that’s a separate issue and should be addressed by the individual and our legal system.
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