03.16.2017
policy

Open Letter to the Drug Testing Industry of America: Don’t Tread on Us

A drug test is required to work in this country, and to be unemployed too?

Until there is such a thing as a guaranteed minimum income in this country, the right to work is important for basic survival. Beyond keeping homelessness and starvation at bay, the American work ethic has been presented for generations as the foundation for upward social mobility. A good job is the building block to a better job, which can lead to an elevated career plateau and the ascension from working-class semi-poverty to the stratum of middle-class opportunity.

From the middle class, as a reward for your hard-working diligence, your children are in a position to ascend to the professional classes. After that next generation becomes doctors, lawyers, and television show runners, limitations fall away. The children of your children could grow up to become anything—even politicians.

Work hard enough, and you might live to see your grandchildren holding public office in Washington, D.C., where they will intermittently propose and pass federal laws that impinge upon or rescind the right to work, destroying the dreams of upward mobility and imperiling the basic survival of vast numbers of honest jobseekers struggling to keep from being pulled under by downward-trending economic currents.

A budtender laid off due to a Santa Ana dispensary closure would be denied an unemployment safety net while seeking a new position as a budtender in West Hollywood.

At the moment these words are being typed, a resolution to dramatically expand drug testing for U.S. workers seeking unemployment benefits awaits only the signature of President Donald Trump to become law. By the time you’re reading this, in all likelihood, states will be allowed to deny unemployment benefits to virtually any applicant who cannot pass a drug test.

The resolution to drug test America’s unemployed—H.J. Res 42—appears to have no motive beyond punishing people who have lost their jobs. This punitive decree arrives in an economy where layoffs are coming so fast and furious and continuous that merely tracking the downsizing supports entire websites.

Image via VSCO

H.J. Res 42 has not invented the practice of drug testing unemployment applicants. Since 2012, drug testing has been in place for out-of-work workers who have lost their jobs due to illegal drug use or whose occupations require drug testing.

From Drug Policy Alliance:

The 2012 federal law instructed the Department of Labor (DOL) to define what those occupations that regularly drug test are. Last year, DOL published a final rule limiting those occupations primarily to those with a public safety concern (aviation and railroad workers, jobs that require carrying a firearm etc.). Prior to 2012, federal law had been interpreted to prohibit states from imposing drug testing requirements on unemployment insurance applicants.

Don’t expect the current U.S. governing bodies to turn back the clock to a time when unemployment drug-testing policies were interpreted to be prohibited. H.J. Res 42 heralds a future in which every temporary loser seeking jobless benefits can be forced to piss clean before receiving a penny of government aid.

From the Associated Press:

Lawmakers complained that the government placed too many limits on states for deciding which unemployment applicants can be drug-tested. The Labor Department's regulation meant that states could only test applicants for unemployment benefits who do jobs that require drug testing. The resolution passed by the House and approved by the Senate would cancel those limits.

Under unlimited drug testing, a budtender laid off due to a Santa Ana dispensary closure would be denied an unemployment safety net while seeking a new position as a budtender in West Hollywood.

The possible outcomes of removing limits on drug testing are absurd, obviously, and also potentially tragic.

Unlimited drug testing dumps a large, slippery can of worms between legal medical-marijuana patients and the meager, biweekly checks that might help them scrape by between bouts of subsistence-level employment. Medical-marijuana cardholders should not expect an automatic exemption from unemployment-insurance drug testing.

Image via Drug Test Dave

Even during the Obama Administration, high courts in liberal states were judging in favor of employers who fired medical-marijuana patients due to off-the-job cannabis use. Under the Trump system of justice, presume that help will not be on the way for people who genuinely need and could legitimately benefit from rudimentary assistance.

The global drug and alcohol testing market is expected to reach $6.3 billion by 2019 from $4 billion in 2014.

In 2014, professors at Princeton and Northwestern universities conducted a study to determine who benefits from laws enacted by America’s Congress. Noting an overwhelming disparity in legislation that advances corporate interests over protecting citizen needs, the researchers concluded that the United States is an oligarchy, not a democracy. In effect, government tends to come to the aid of those who can afford to hire lobbyists—like the corporations that administer and analyze drug tests.

According to a recent M&M market research report, “the global drug and alcohol testing market is expected to reach $6.3 billion by 2019 from $4 billion in 2014.” That multi-billion-dollar market is dominated by North America (in particular, that part of North America south of Canada). Many of the market's biggest testing providers hail from that same region.

From M&M’s report:

Key players in the drug and alcohol testing market include Quest Diagnostics (U.S.), Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (U.S.), Alere, Inc., (U.S.), Roche Diagnostics (Switzerland), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. (U.S.), Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA (Germany), Siemens Healthcare (Germany), Express Diagnostics Intl Inc. (U.S.), Shimadzu (Japan), and MPD, Inc. (U.S.).

According to its own site, the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) was founded in 1995, represents more than 1,500 drug-testing companies, “follows federal regulations and legislation affecting its members,” and “advocates on their behalf with members of Congress and regulatory agencies in support or opposition of proposed legislation.”

The DATIA, and it seems the ruling majority of the United States Congress, have subjugated the wellbeing of America’s working classes to the interests of people who make their money off hair samples, blood draws, and swirls of urine in plastic cups—all at great taxpayer expense to state agencies.

Weeding out people from the unemployment benefit pool based on sniffing out marijuana from a cup of urine is a direct subversion of the right to work. No one benefits when an unemployed person cannot afford to look for that next job—other than the lobbyists, the corporate person hoods that pay the lobbyists, and the bureaucrats and elected officials those lobbyists slither into bed with.

Tagged: