Passing the Test: A Brief History of Drug Testing


Drug screenings have become a staple of the job application process, but it wasn’t always this way.  Here is a brief look into the history of drug testing.

Do you ever wonder why you have to check that little box at the bottom of an employment application? You know the one, “Would you be willing to submit for random drug screenings?” Many of us may have shied away from a job or two simply because of this simple sentence; have you ever wondered if it has always been this way?

Beginning in the 1960s a sense of urgency was thrust upon the nation in the form of the ‘War on  Drugs’ declared by President Richard Nixon, who believed that drug abuse was “public enemy History of Drug Testing Greenitonumber one.” Nixon championed the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Following this President Carter declared that possession of an ounce of marijuana would be illegal in the United States.

President Reagan and his wife Nancy were vehemently against the use ofdrugs among our nation’s school children and urban youth. Many of us recall the “Just Say No” slogan. These policy makers and community leaders began in the late 1980s to institute a policy of drug testing on all high school and college level athletes. Drug testing had previously been used only for those suspected of drug use and were usually reserved for military or upper division government positions.

Drug testing in the workplace officially began around 1984, spurring debates about the right to privacy and other Constitutional issues, and many have wondered if employee behavior is actually affected by off-the-clock weed smoking.

The U.S. exercised a “zero-tolerance” policy on drugs for 40 years and until very recently the federal government has not eased up. Yes, we still have to check off that little box on our applications, but the tides seem to be turning in favor of legalization, meaning soon citizens may not have to submit to these random tests.

Don’t have to pass a drug test for your new job? Find local dispensaries and deals here.

Did you find this interesting? You may also enjoy:

Did Shakespeare Smoke Pot?

A Brief Look at the History of Marijuana Prohibition

Fired for Legal Marijuana? One Woman’s Story


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