October 7, 2014 Dale Gieringer of California NORML has written to the Friends Committee on Legislation decrying their support for a proposition (46) placed on the November ballot by the trial lawyers. His letter, with two references, follows.
We are shocked and dismayed by your ill-advised endorsement of random drug testing of doctors in Prop. 46.
Not only is suspicionless urine testing an obnoxious violation of personal privacy and civil liberties, but it is also an inherently flawed technology that fails to give a reliable indication of drug abuse.
In fact, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to show that doctors’ competence can be measured by chemical analysis of their urine. Neither the safety nor efficacy of drug testing has ever been demonstrated or tested in controlled FDA studies of workplace safety or job performance. In a study of relevance to Prop 46, researchers found no relationship between drug testing results of health care workers and their job performance.1
The advertisements for Prop. 46 deceptively claim to target doctors with alcohol and prescription drug abuse problems. In fact, drug testing is insensitive to alcohol abuse, unless one actually shows up drunk for the test. As for prescription drugs, Prop. 46 specifically allows doctors to test positive for addictive prescription narcotics so long as they have a medical prescription.
In contrast, Prop. 46 is highly intolerant of marijuana, explicitly disallowing non-psychoactive marijuana metabolites that reside in the system for many days and weeks after previous use. Not only that, Prop. 46 disallows medical use of marijuana, even though its use is legal under Prop. 215 and has been linked to a 25% reduction in opiate overdose deaths in states with medical cannabis laws.2
By denying physicians the ability to use marijuana medically (or otherwise), Prop 46 will have the perverse effect of encouraging them to substitute more dangerous drugs such as alcohol, prescription opiates and designer drugs such as synthetic marijuana substitutes, which are not detectable on standard drug tests.
In defense of Prop 46, you have argued that airline pilots, bus drivers and others are currently required to submit to random testing. You should be aware that this requirement was rammed through by the Reagan administration over the objections of civil libertarians and labor advocates despite a glaring lack of scientific evidence that urinalysis would be effective in improving workplace safety. The United States stands apart from most developed countries in imposing such testing; in Canada and the Netherlands – which enjoys a better transportation and workplace safety record than the U.S. – random testing is disallowed as an unconstitutional violation of workers’ rights.
As you should know, drug testing of doctors was added to Prop. 46 as an afterthought by political consultants on the grounds that it polled well with the public. It is sad to see otherwise enlightened civil libertarians embrace such cynical quackery. Drug testing has been aptly described as “Chemical McCarthyism.” On these grounds alone, Prop. 46 should be rejected by California voters.
Enclosed FYI is our guidebook explaining why drug testing is bad medicine.
1 Parish, David, “Relation of the Pre-employment Drug Testing Result to Employment Status: A
2 Bachhuber, M, Saloner, B, Cunningham, C; Barry, C., “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010,” JAMA Intern Med. Aug 25, 2014.
Dale Gieringer, Ph.D. Director, California NORML 2261 Market St. #278A, S.F. CA 94114 (510) 540-1066 – firstname.lastname@example.org