It seems that the newest target of America’s “war on drugs” will be logic. That is, if policymakers and school administrators ignore evidence from the University’s newly completed study on the efficacy of drug testing students involved in extra-cirricular activities in schools.

About eight years ago, on the front lines of this particular U.S. war, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that was so important to prevent high school athletes from using drugs that side-stepping the Fourth Amendment was permissible. Actually, according to the Supreme Court, enforcing mandatory drug tests is not an invasion of privacy because it will get kids off drugs. It seems what they meant to say was, drug testing is worth the infringements on the Fourth Amendment because it will have such positive consequences.

In 1995, when the Supreme Court spoke on this issue, Justice Antonin Scalia, said the “efficacy of this means for addressing the problem” of student drug use is “self-evident.” The University study, however, debunks this argument by qestioning the “efficacy” of drug testing.

The study, authored by Ryoko Yamaguchi, Lloyd D. Johnston and Patrick M. O’Malley, social scientists at the Institite for Social Research, disputed the “self-evident” efficacy of drug testing as a preventative method with cold hard facts. This federally funded study surveyed over 76,000 students nationwide. In the end, the authors concluded that there is no difference between the percentage of drug users in schools which conduct drug tests compared to those who do not. The study found that in schools that do not test students for use of marijuana and other illicit drugs, 36 percent of students had used such drugs within the previous 12-month period. The number was 37 percent in schools that do conduct testing. In other words, testing for drugs is not an effective deterrent.

In addition, it seems that the tests are easy to fool. The urinalysis is not as accurate as a blood test, and students have found techniques which turn the task of passing the tests into a game of sorts. Resorting to testing students’ blood seems a far too invasive step for public schools to take in order to ensure that the members of their debate teams are not smoking marijuana in their free time.

This information was not available to the Supreme Court eight years ago. Now that it is, by the court’s own logic, mandatory drug tests can only be viewed as unconstitutional; however, it is currently legal to administer drug tests to any student who is involved in any extracurricular activity, not just to athletes.

During a time when state and local governments are facing tremendous fiscal crises as the economy remains sour, it seems illogical to send tax dollars toward drug tests which have been proven to be ineffective. Surely the country’s schools have more pressing needs to spend coveted money on than drug tests, especially in light of these data.

Because it has been shown that these drug tests are ineffective, violating students’ rights by testing their own bodies without a warrant and probable cause is not only futile, but unconstitutional as well. This study is yet another nail in the coffin of this country’s feckless and at times comical war on drugs.

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