WV'S JOB TRAINING APPLICANTS WILL BE DRUG TESTED - Will All Americans Be Drug Tested, Sanctioned By Government?

(05/01/2012)

COMMENT by Bob Weaver

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is ordering drug tests for people who seek job training on the taxpayer's dime.

Tomblin says he is signing an executive order that requires drug screenings for WV Workforce program applicants.

Tomblin's order follows a pledge he made during this year's State of the State address.

He said employers have complained that jobs remain unfilled because applicants can't pass drug tests.

Legislation passed during the recent Legislative session that requires random screening of people with safety-sensitive jobs at coal mines.

Republicans have been pushing drug testing for people who receive welfare assistance.

Colorado House Democratic Leader Mark Ferrandino passed out small plastic cups to his fellow lawmakers, suggesting that if people who receive public assistance face drug tests, so should lawmakers.

Washington wants businesses to drug test their workers to boost productivity and reduce health care costs, according to the 2012 National Drug Control Report just released.

But the Obama administration said everyone in America should not have to pee in a cup.

"While we believe that employers can use testing as one of a variety of tools to help guide employees suffering from substance abuse disorders into treatment ... it is certainly not our policy that every employer in America ought to test and punish employees," said Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the administration's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The comments come amid a wave of state and federal proposals that would require the poor and unemployed to prove they're not on drugs in order to receive government benefits, including unemployment checks.

In many instances, Republican proponents of drug testing have argued that since most businesses require workers to drug test, the government should do the same for those seeking welfare or unemployment insurance while they search for work.

2006 data says a whopping 84 percent of employers typically required drug tests for new hires.

"Democrats definitely fought against the drug testing of unemployment applicants, arguing it was punitive and costly, so for the White House to come out in favor of testing every American who works seems a little hypocritical," said Bill Piper, a lobbyist for the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for drug law reform.

Most of those tested positive for marijuana.

Alcohol has always been excluded from various administrations war on drugs as a drug.

America's teacher unions have widely protested the testing of public school teachers, while school systems have moved toward testing students.

Reason, a libertarian magazine, traced the roots of private-sector workplace drug testing to the government's War on Drugs, starting with the Reagan administration's push for drug-free federal workplaces in 1986.

"If it weren't for the war on drugs, it seems likely that employers would treat marijuana and other currently illegal intoxicants the way they treat alcohol, which they view as a problem only when it interferes with work," Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote.

The question surfaces, where can a line be drawn that will not prevent government approval of testing all US citizens.


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