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Samantha Felix Samantha Felix

Seven Reasons to Start a War on Drug Tests


Many companies still insist on inflicting mandatory drug testing on employees—even for marijuana, in states where marijuana is legal.

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An employer’s prerogative? Photo via

A practice that has always enraged those who value civil liberties is becoming even more controversial. Marijuana legalization continues to gather momentum, but even in states where marijuana is legal you may not be able to partake without serious repercussions—many companies still require employees to take random drug tests, using the fact that federal law still prohibits pot as justification.

For example, Amazon and Microsoft, both headquartered in Washington State, have no plans to update their current drug policies, despite marijuana legalization there. In Colorado, 20% of companies have reportedly implemented stricter drug policies post-legalization. And although the New York Times ran a week-long campaign of editorials supporting national marijuana legalization, the famous daily is yet to stop enforcing mandatory marijuana testing for its own prospective employees.

Vice reporter Arielle Pardes wrote this great article explaining why we need to start the war on drug tests. She notes that 90% of Fortune 1000 companies and 62% of all employers still require drug testing, despite research that suggests these tests are pointless. Here is Pardes’ list of reasons why drug testing is a waste of resources and violates human rights:

1. Drug tests are not accurate. One in every 20 people will have inaccurate test results that are more likely to yield a false-positive than a false-negative.

2. It is easy to fake results. Unless someone is watching a person take a drug test, it is easy to bring a sample of someone else’s urine and pour it into the cup.

3.  Most employers target marijuana users. Because tests are scheduled 48 hours in advance, it is simple for most drug users to flush their system of any substances prior. Unlike amphetamines, alcohol, cocaine and LSD, however, marijuana takes between a week and 30 days to leave your system.

4. Drug tests do not stop people from taking drugs. There are just too many ways to fake the results or avoid the problem substances in order to pass the test.

5. Drug tests are expensive. On average a single test costs between $20 and $60. The state of Utah spent $30 million on drug testing welfare recipients between 2012 and 2013. When only 12 people tested positive, it makes you think that maybe the public school system could have put that funding to better use. Just saying.

6. Most people don’t get caught. Very few people actually fail a drug test. On average, only 3.5 % of drug tests show up positive.

7. Drug tests are an invasion of privacy. A drug test will never be able to evaluate if a recreational user’s habits will have any affect on that person’s ability to perform their job. And, it shouldn’t be the prerogative of the employer to make any assumptions based on a five-minute bathroom session.