White House Pushes Ineffective and Harmful Student Drug Testing Agenda at Regional Summits

Press Release April 24, 2005
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of summits promoting its dangerous and ineffective policy of student drug testing. The second summit takes place tomorrow in St. Louis, and two more summits will follow in Pittsburgh (May 5) and Portland (May 11). The first was held in Dallas on April 19th.

Although the Bush administration has been busy promoting student drug testing for the last two years, the largest ever study on the effectiveness of such testing found no difference in drug use among students who were tested and those who were not. The federally funded study, released in 2003, included 76,000 students from across the country.

“Drug testing is humiliating, costly and ineffective, but it’s an easy anti-drug soundbite for the White House,” said Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, a mother of four and the director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Safety First project. “The people and educators across the country who make serious decisions about young people’s safety won’t find the information they need at these propaganda-filled summits. They need the actual research, not slogans and junk science.”

A 24-page booklet published by the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance, Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No, provides the latest scientific research on student drug testing. Already distributed to over 33,000 school officials, the booklet covers the legal implications associated with student drug testing, analyzes the costs of implementing such policies, and provides further resources for educators interested in addressing drug abuse among young people.

Local educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the summits, where the drug czar’s office will continue to tout student drug testing as a “silver bullet” to address teen drug use. But participants in the summit won’t be told that student drug testing not only doesn’t work, it may in fact deter young people from participating in the very extracurricular activities that have proven to decrease drug use. Educators will also be informed about the federal government’s enlarged grant program for schools that want to implement student drug testing.

“They like to pretend that random drug testing is about responding to local concerns and helping young people,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “But in reality they’re pushing this from Washington, ignoring the leading science, and using soft rhetoric to cover their real agenda — punishment.”

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at www.drugtestingfails.org

Excerpt from the booklet Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No


Comprehensive, rigorous, and respected research shows that there are many reasons why random student drug testing is not good policy:

There are alternatives to drug testing that emphasize education, discussion, counseling, extracurricular activities, and that build trust between students and adults.

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at www.drugtestingfails.org

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

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