Random Student Drug Testing Ban Headed to the Governor

Press Release August 17, 2004
Media Contact

Simeon Gant at (916) 202-1631 or Glenn Backes at (916) 202-2538

SACRAMENTO-Today the California Legislature passed a measure intended to ban random student drug testing in California public schools. The measure will now allow for drug testing as long as participation is voluntary–requiring parental and pupil consent– and will not prevent participation in scholastic or extra-curricular activities for those who don’t want to be tested. The bill requires the results of a random drug test be provided only to the parents or guardian of the student being tested

“We are elated over the fact that students will not have the fear of being kicked out of after school programs and expulsion from school,” said Glenn Backes, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s California Capitol office, “We hope the Governor recognizes this policy as the best way to provide parental cooperation rather than to simply allow intrusive random testing across the board.”

SB 1386, authored by State Senator John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) and Assembly member Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) passed the State Assembly by a vote of 49 to 24.

Senator Vasconcellos told reporters last month, “Random drug testing fails to deter drug use among students according to other state’s experience. It deters youth from participating in extracurricular activities and alienates them. It also leads to expensive litigation that costs taxpayers. Our resources are better spent on drug education and positive reinforcement.”

Last month the Bush Administration mobilized opposition to the bill, sending then-Deputy Drug czar, Andrea Grubb Barthwell to testify against it in the Assembly Education Committee. Even with such weighty opposition, the majority of Democratic members and one Republican voted for the ban.

Today’s vote garnered support from eight Republicans and 41 Democrats.

Backes said, “The bill does not limit the ability of school administrators to discipline students for use of drugs, steroids, or alcohol under existing provisions of the Education Code. But if signed into law, it would keep students involved in after-school programs because we know these programs reduce drug abuse and crime among students. Schools should never say to a student that he or she couldn’t participate in band or football unless they turn in a urine sample.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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