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Mandatory drug tests: Pro or conPosted Monday, August 20, 2007, at 10:40 AM
Drug testing for adults: Yes or no?
I received an e-mail from a reader suggesting, specifically, urine testing -- as Bedford County students involved in extracurricular activities already undergo. I've said before that students who aren't involved in activities should be the top priority for testing, since statistics prove they're more likely to do drugs.
Some feel adults who are applying for public assistance, especially housing or welfare, should be required to undergo drug tests as well. A federal law passed in 1996 specifically says it's legal.
But is that bias toward the poor?
So here's food for thought: Should those applying for any type of federal funding -- even home loans -- be tested? That would hit a much larger percentage of the population and wouldn't be targeting just the lower income.
I'd even include public officials whose names are on applications for federal city and county grants (and let's make it clear I'm in no way implying any official uses drugs).
Let's go one step further.
Based on seeing years worth of police records, I've found most drug arrests in Shelbyville stem from traffic stops. The officer senses something amiss and finds drugs in the vehicle, sometimes with assistance from a drug-sniffing dog but often simply by odor, sight, patdowns or the suspect's own actions.
So why not mandatory drug screens on all drivers stopped for anything more than speeding or very minor offenses? Of course, that would possibly cost the city and county more than fines could cover.
Even further: Consider drug tests as a condition of driver's license renewals, since driving is a privilege and not a right.
And that would cover nearly everyone, covering all income levels and no social status-based bias.
The only problems would be delays due to adding something to the current process of just mailing renewals, plus the fact many of those stopped for drugs are unlicensed.
But drug testing can go too far.
The well-meaning management of Bedford County Medical Center has Pink Ladies undergo urine tests.
Pink Ladies, whom many of you have already met, are for the most part ladies past retirement age. At least one's over 90. These volunteer workers welcome visitors near the entrance and do such activities as carry mail and magazines to patients. Hardly the profile of drug users.
But: If the Pink Ladies can be drug screened...
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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