White Paper: Drug Testing Results Often Inaccurate, Unreliable

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 23, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from next week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    Drug screening results, including those from federally certified labs, may not always be reliable, according to a white paper published online this week by the National Workrights Institute.

    “[Government] certified drug testing laboratories have significant reliability problems and that the government’s assurances that false positive test results are a thing of the past is untrue,” the paper concludes.

    The NWI paper bases its conclusion on several key findings. These include:

    • “The accuracy of certified labs has never been tested.”

    • Government certified labs do not “consistently followed federally mandated procedures for lab accuracy.”

    • Federal regulations “allow labs to make mistakes on ten percent of the blind samples used in the certification process.

    • “[C]ertified labs do not always maintain a proper chain of custody.”

    According to the paper, documented examples of errors by federally certified labs are not uncommon. It finds, “In the last four years alone, one laboratory had its certification revoked and three others had their certification suspended.”

    The paper acknowledges that federally certified labs are likely to yield more reliable results than non-certified facilities, but cautions that their procedures may still inadvertently produce false positive results.

    Full text of the paper, “Latest Research Reveals New Problems With Drug Testing,” is available online here.

    53 responses to “White Paper: Drug Testing Results Often Inaccurate, Unreliable”

    1. Higzy says:

      Any half decent lawyer will be able to SMASH such test results with the greatest of ease. Although, as we have seen countless times — Government corruption will ensure that no matter what is done in the court of law that it will not go against their own corrupt agenda. We are left with no other choice but to give the Government the ‘BIG Fuck you’.

    2. dan says:

      I still don’t understand how employment drug screening (urine test) is legal. Is this not a violation of our charter of rights ( in canada ) bill of rights in usa?

    3. Cindy says:

      I’m wondering how two people can go and get drug tested and have different results,a positive and a negative, after they smoked the same thing on the way to get tested.

    4. Alex says:

      The link to full text of the paper appears to be broken.

      [Paul Armentano responds: The link is fine. It takes you to the pdf file of the paper. You can also log on to:


      Click ’employee screening.’ Click ‘drug tsting.’ Click ‘new information.’]

    5. mdm_stellar says:

      What about false negatives?…I have taken low dose opiods for chronic back pain every single day for years, yet have come back with negative results on several occasions from certified labs, which has caused me undue suffering & makes no sense. I also tested negative for marijuana, though I smoke it often. Makes no sense at all.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Not surprised at all. They have been ruining honest hard working American families lives for years under the false pretense of “work place saftey”.

    7. Anonymous says:

      we had somthing like this happen in Indiana recently with one of our CRIME Labs

    8. Joe says:

      Drug testing is seriously important to marijuana legalization. Although the effect is smokers usually are more careful at the wheel, it’s still an issue of concern.

    9. Buggsy13420666 says:

      The FEDERAL DEATH AUTHORITY protected under wings of FEDERALISM and the defenders of the STATUS QUO will find loopholes under their control and make short cuts to approve drug testing another way to control our lives on what we ingest. Look at all the BIG PHARMA drugs being put on the market that have side effects. Don’t think that DRUG TESTING runs through the FDA without side effects of false positives. This war against marijuana users have created another market for greed. POLICE STATE tactics at its best. Just another tool for BIG BROTHER and UNICORNIZATION OF AMERICAN PEOPLE. HAIL THE MONARCHY!

    10. Owen says:

      Imagine my surprise…..