Drug tests mostly detect the stupid in our system …
I’m new at the Rooster and didn’t get drug tested. Which surprised me. I thought for sure they woulda tested for substances — to make sure I'm taking enough …
Most other jobs have tested me. Which always seemed weird, too.
I mean, these weren’t technical jobs, like hauling nuclear waste or babysitting epileptic toddlers near tiger cages. They involved typing. Yet I’d holster the pipe for two months before I started — weed stays in your system for up to 45 days if you’re dedicated (only a few days if you’re a dabbler).
Requiring these tests show how badly these companies don't understand their workforce. The second after I would pass the drug test, some highly-valued employee would take me behind the building and we’d fumigate the alley, often using the certificate of drug completion to roll the joints.
So I’ve always known drug tests were barely worth a cup of piss. They’re like literacy tests for voting or loyalty oaths for government jobs — they’re so antiquated, it feels like you should pee into a cask; the results ought to be written on parchment; the nurse should call you “sire” and ask about your black bile humours. Why not tie my hands and throw me in a river and see if I drown?
But, just this week, I learned something ironic: drug tests are about as illogical as the clock-punchers who give them.
They simply don’t test for what you’d think they’d test for. They test for some of the small stuff, but are blind to some of the big stuff. All of them test for cannabis, for example, but none of them test for DMT. It’s like deciding who’ll start for the Colorado Rapids by testing your skills at foosball.
Let me flesh this out. Though it varies widely, your average employer — from the 7-Elevens to the Costcos — tend to use a drug test called the SAMHSA 5. The SAMHSA-5 detects five classes of some of the most common substances: cannabis, coke, amphetamines (including meth), opiates (including heroin) and PCP.
(So, yes, just like the federal government, most drug tests haven’t adapted to the reality that cannabis is legal. And most still put weed and heroin in the same category, presumably because they both alter your mind, which is like categorizing whales and geysers together because they both shoot out water.)
Meanwhile, the substances that will blow the back of your skull off? The ones that will catapult you into the cumulous clouds? The ones that will invite the lizard people into your corpus callosum? Many of those will slip right past.
The SAMHSA-5 will not test for MDMA, quaaludes, whippets, vicodin, rohypnol or a grip of other brain-lifters and body-smashers.
So what message are employers sending? “We will not hire an arthritic grandmother who vapes Flo before weeding her garden. A person like that is just not 7-Eleven material. But if you give yourself the date rape drug for fun, then please fill out your W9.”
Sure, there are some more intense tests. The Department of Transportation also tests for MDMA and its cousins. And if you’re on probation, the DOC will often test you for 12 categories of drugs, not just five. Sometimes their tests even include alcohol.
But very, very few employers or correctional facilities will test for things like mescaline, mushrooms or LSD.
I mean, if this arrangement were intentional, it might make some sense; LSD, mescaline and mushrooms have never been shown to be harmful. But, still … isn’t it strange that you can drop a hundred hits of acid and eat a bucket of caps, and, after you pee into the cup, after you intuit the frequency at which yellow liquids buzz, and, after you hand back your vibrating whiz and you watch the nurse’s face melt into an angry river otter — you’ll still get the job.
And it is completely, totally unheard of to test for DMT, the Uranium-235 of psychoactive molecules. Again, this might make some sense if it were on purpose, since DMT is a natural molecule that seems to help people more than hurt them. And it’s manufactured in the human body naturally. So testing for it is probably impossible. It’d be like testing for saliva, serotonin or stomach acid.
But it’s probably just a mistake. And, it’s ironic, isn’t it? If you’re on probation, go ahead and trip your sack off -— but don’t sip a Fat Tire.
And probably this all shows the real motives behind the war on drugs. Drugs like cannabis, meth and heroin are associated with hood rats and white trash, while LSD and shrooms are associated with white kids who study physics. So, what is really getting screened here? If the ghetto was crunking on LSD and shrooms, while the WASPs in Skull and Bones were partying on heroin and blunts, would employers switch up the tests?
And of course all drug tests just create a dangerous game of cat and mouse, wherein everybody stops smoking ganja and starts smoking gunk. Uneducated people smoke that horrible Spice stuff, while educated peeps start buying research chemicals off the DarkNet — and who knows what those are doing to the brain.
Of course it makes sense for Amtrak to test its high-speed rail conductors for meth and for Pfizer to test its pharmaceutical reps for opioid addictions.
But other employers might want to get their priorities straight, and decide what exactly it is about drugs that they don’t like. If they’re just testing whether employees are upright citizens who follow the law, maybe they should stop testing for marijuana, especially in the 25 states with legal weed. If they don’t want employees to hurt their bodies, maybe they should test for the most harmful substances. If they don’t want employees who might steal to pay for a drug habit, maybe they should test for the most addictive ones. But not all “drugs” are against the law, or harmful, or addictive. Some, like cannabis, aren’t any of those things.
The irony is that drugs testing hasn’t changed much in decades, while the laws and science surrounding drugs are changing rapidly. As the Drug War ratchets down, maybe Drug Testing should, too. And maybe your current job will be your last job where going to the bathroom will be part of the interview process.