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by Ian Williams Goddard

Alas, the sorry sound of a Big Lie crashing:

The stereotype of the lazy, illicit-drug using bum promotes an acceptance of claims that il- licit drug use imposes heavy economic burdens upon businesses and society, and consequently that universal drug testing is the most cost- effective reaction to this unprofitable burden.

But how true are these claims, which seem to enjoy the support of reputable scientific re- search?Under examination these claims are proven to be nothing more than a greedy scam designed to expand the bureaucratic empires and profits of a few by sacrificing the most fundamental liberties of the many.


Contradicting the "unproductive drug user" stereotype, while the National Household Sur- vey on Drug Abuse [1] finds that 71% of il- licit-drug users are employed, U.S. Depart- ment of Labor statistics [2] show that only 65% of those 20 and over are employed. From the data we can extrapolate that the aver- age illicit-drug user is more likely to be employed than the average person [3].

The evidence suggests that, while not favor- able to police-state mega profits, the most true-to-life stereotype could be: "The pro- ductive and motivated drug user."

Why might this be so? It's possible that the desire for the reward of drug intoxication acts as astronger incentive to work more (in an effort to earn the money necessary to purchase the drug-reward) than non-drug rewards act as an incentive for nonusers to work more. Such is Economics 101: the higher the reward, the higher the output to acquire it; or, the sweeter the carrot on the stick, the faster the horse will run after it.


The journal SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN [4] cited a study of workers at two utility companies: Utah Power & Light and Georgia Power Company. The workers who tested positive for illicit drugs were found to (a) cost employers $215 less per worker per year in health insurance, and (b) have a higher rate of promotion. Work- ers testing positive for cannabis only had an absentee rate 30% lower than average. The logical conclusion: illicit users were less costly to employers while at the same time being more productive and reliable. More for less! -- now there's a deal.

The JOURNAL OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE [5] published a study that found "no difference between drug-positive and drug-negative em- ployees."However, the study's author ob- served that during the study, 11 of the non- users were fired while none of the users were fired. Ironically, once the study end- ed, all of the users could have been fired for using the "wrong" drugs, regardless of their productivity and professionalism.

The claim that illicit-drug use costs busi- nesses X billion dollars per year, is der- ived from a 1982 study by the Research Tri- angle Institute. The study found that house- holds with at least one member who used can- nabis daily at some point in their life had a 28% lower income than the average house- hold income. Yet the study also showed that those currently using any illicit drug had an income equivalent to the average [4].

If we conclude that because cannabis use pre- ceded a lower income, therefore, cannabis use caused a lower income(a post hoc ergo prop- ter hoc fallacy), then we must also conclude based on the data that if you used cannabis in the past, you should start using it again to increase your income to current-user rates.

Interesting to note:if current drug users earn more than former users, this supports the theory that drug rewards are a more powerful incentive for work than nondrug rewards.


In an effort to push Congress to pass manda- tory illicit-drug-testing legislation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials, in testimony before Congress, claimed that research showed illicit-drug users were "3.6 times more like- ly to injure themselves or another person in a workplace accident...[and] five times more likely to file a workers' compensation claim." However, as SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN [4] observed:

In fact, the study on which the claim is based has "nothing to do with [illicit] drug users," according to a 1988 article in the University of Kansas Law Re- view by John P. Morgan of the City University of New York Med- ical School. Morgan, an author- ity on drug testing, has traced the Chamber of Commerce claim to an informal study by the Fire- stone Tire and Rubber Company of employees undergoing treatment for alcoholism. ^^^^^^^^^^ Using the devastating effects of the govern- ment subsidized drug alcohol to initiate a leg- islative pogrom against safer, albeit, illicit drugs -- an obvious and shameless scam.

This scam is promoted not only by governmental interests in an effort to expand bureaucratic empires,but also by private interests in an effort to maximize profits, as the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN observed: "The pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-La Roche, which is leading an anti- drug campaign among businesses (and has a big share of the drug-testing market), also promul- gates this claim in 'educational' literature."

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN observed other errors in the research promoted by the GovtMedia that purports to show that drug users are bad for business. For example, a study that found a higher absentee rate among users failed to note that most users in the study were minor- ities, and minorities have an absentee rate, regardless of drug use, identical to the rate observed in the study.Logic therefore dic- tates, contrary to the GovtMedia's conclusion, that NO statistically significant correlation between drug use and absenteeism was found.


Ultimately, the drug-testing and drug-rehab- ilitation program is a massive cannabis-user- identification and reeducation pogrom. This is because 90% of drug-positive urine tests are for cannabis, which is due to the fact that inactive metabolites of THC remain in the urine for up to 30 days after a single use, whereas most other drugs are out of the system in a day or even less. But why sacri- fice primary liberties for cannabis control?

Not only is cannabis one of the safest known drugs [6], and, as we have just observed, is correlated to better employee performance, but there is no established correlation bet- ween cannabis and motor-skill impairment; thus, unlike legal alcohol, it cannot even be said to impair driving skills, which is a major drug testing pretext. Observing the safety of cannabis use, the National High- way Traffic Safety Administration [7] said:

No clear relationship has ever been demonstrated between mari- juana smoking and either serious- ly impaired driving performance or the risk of accident involve- ment... [T]here is little if any evidence to indicate that drivers who have used marijuana alone are any more likely to cause serious accidents than drug free drivers.

The most exhaustive review of the research clearly confirms that there is simply no compelling case for the intrusive Orwellian surveillance of private activity that is im- posed by drug testing.As Dr. John Morgan, director of pharmacology at City University of New York Medical School, wisely observed:

Urine testing is ... a method for surveillance, not a tool for safety.

Indeed, drug testing is not about safety or job performance; drug testing is a necessary feature of the Surveillance State that is now being built around us to ensure total cradle- to-grave surveillance and control of workers.

While it's been said that those who are will- ing to give up liberty for safety will soon have neither,in the case of illicit-drug testing -- which cannot even promise improv- ed safety -- we can say that those who are willing to give up liberty for nothing will soon have only that for which they surrend- ered their priceless liberty: nothing.


[1] National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1995.

[2] U.S. Department of Labor statistics, 1996.

[3] The USDL statistics [2] indicate that the Employment Population Ratio (EPR) for all men and women ages 20 and above is 65%. However, the NHSDA study [1], showing a 71% EPR for il- licit-users, includes all users ages 18 and above. Would this give the illicit users an unfair advantage in this analysis? No, because the EPR for ages 18-19 is roughly 1 to 3% lower than for ages 20 and above (likely due to being in school);this lower rate of employment for ages 18-19 would serve only to lower the il- licit-user EPR results.Therefore, the inclu- sion of ages 18-19 in the NHSCA study must lo- wer, NOT inflate, the higher rate of employ- ment measured among illicit users.

[4] SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Testing Negative, a look at the "evidence" justifying illicit-drug testing, 3/90.

[5] JOURNAL OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE: Rela- tion of the Pre-employment Drug Testing Result to Employment Status, A One-year Follow-up. Parish, David C.Jan/Feb, 1989.pp. 44-47.


[7] NATIONAL HIGHWAY AND TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINIS- TRATION. "Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance," Robbe, H., O'Hanlon, J., National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nov. 1993.

Special thanks to Eric Skidmore for his assistance.


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