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Drug Testing as Part of the War on Drugs

June 26th, 2014 at 6:38 am

Christopher M. Cosley, drug crimes, drug screening, drug testing, employer drug testing, Rolling Meadows criminal attorney, violation of rights, war on drugsDrug abuse and addiction is a problem affecting virtually every geographical location across the country to some extent. In an effort to combat drug use, the government has declared a “war on drugs” in the past, seeking to charge individuals with drug crimes that carry harsh penalties as a way to remedy the problem. While intentions may have been noble, a recent article discusses drug testing as one of the byproducts of the war on drugs and its unintended consequences.

Employer Drug Testing

One of the scenarios most common for drug testing is in the workplace. Whether it is in applying for a job, or before officially starting a new job, many candidates are forced to submit to drug testing in order to be considered for a position. The problem, some employers are pointing out, is that the requirement of passing a drug test may be automatically screening out the best candidates for a given position. On the other hand, the testing requirement may have benefitted others, particularly minorities, by allowing them to prove they were not using drugs to potential employers. While drug testing is only necessary for government employees, other well-known employers are following suit across the nation.

Acceptable Requirement or Violation of Rights?

While there are some obvious benefits to the practice, opponents of employer drug testing argue that the requirement is an infringement on Fourth Amendment rights. They say that blanket testing equates to a search of the individual submitting to the test without probable cause. Further problems with the testing requirement include a low efficacy rate, the failure to detect certain types of new synthetic drugs, and the lack of proof that it actually curbs drug use. It is important to note that despite repeated Fourth Amendment challenges in past decades, the Supreme Court has ruled that drug testing is not a violation of constitutional rights. Congress followed with legislation in line with the Court’s opinion which provided the basis for widespread use of drug testing in employment.


As a result of the legal precedent, companies took advantage of drug testing. It is estimated that today, approximately 57 percent of U.S. employers rely on drug testing as part of their employment practices. Some point out that the cost of $50.00 per screen is a hefty one to pay for virtually no benefit to justify it.

The Fight Continues

The American Civil Liberties Union continues to fight against the practice of drug testing in the workplace, as it has done for the last three decades. The ACLU argues that testing infringes on privacy rights and disproportionately affects the underprivileged. They say it is a procedure that does nothing to address the problem it seeks to solve, and actually may cause more harm than good for the individuals who are forced to submit to the testing in order to maintain employment.

Criminal Defense Attorney

It will be interesting to see if the use of drug testing by employers will dramatically change in the future. For now, the problem of drug use is an ongoing one. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime, contact the experienced defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Chicago and the surrounding area.

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