Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Don’t Work

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 13, 2014

    The imposition of student drug testing programs is not effective in limiting students’ consumption of controlled substances, according to survey data published in the January edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

    Investigators from Israel and the United States assessed whether students’ awareness of drug testing programs in their school was associated with a reduction in the frequency of their use of alcohol, cigarettes, or cannabis.

    Authors reported, “Consistent with previous research, results of the current study show that perceived SDT (student drug testing) is not associated with a reduction in initiation or escalation of substance use in the general student population.”

    They concluded, “The current research reinforces previous conclusions that SDT is a relatively ineffective drug-prevention policy.”

    An estimated 20 percent of US high schools impose drug testing upon members of the student body.

    Previous assessments of student drug testing programs, including random testing programs, report that the imposition of such programs are not associated with reduced levels of student drug use and, in some instances, are “associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.”

    Full text of the study, “Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study,” is available online here.

    46 responses to “Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Don’t Work”

    1. daytonvh says:

      I don’t think student drug testing was ever intended as a preventative measure. Regardless of whether it’s sold on that premise, it’s always a class weapon wielded the same way it is in the workplace and society at large: discriminatorily.

    2. Kyle Cooper says:

      Did this really have to be tested? I’m currently a senior in High School, and i see more drugs flowing through the halls than in a club. A kid just got caught the other day with 12 packets of heroine, intending to sell. Many kids are doing molly every weekend and a lot are drinking too. I get asked everyday if i know anyone that wants pills of any kind. We can get randomly tested, but the kids just don’t care. Also i’d say, at the very least, half of the whole student body smokes marijuana. All they are doing is wasteing money.

    3. Ray Walker says:

      When you get right down to it student drug testing is obviously worthless. As daytonvh said,”class weapon”. Tired of it all. Can’t wait to get to sunny California.

    4. Ray Walker says:

      One more thing. In todays world did anyone really think that they wouldn’t at least try cannabis. I know i’d be a fool if I thought my kids would never try it. You could no more stop kids from these experiment than you can stop them from having sex. How they behave after it is a matter of what you as a parent have contributed to their upbringing.

    5. Militarydoc says:

      I am a young doctor in the US military and took part in a command wide urinalysis today. A whole gymnasium full of officers standing around holding cups of their own urine for over an hour as we wait to submit our samples to the command. I was Wondering how effectively we are spending the tax payers money as a couple hundred officers take over an hour out of their day to do this. wondering if anyone will even test positive and also wondering if there is any correlation between drug testing and work safety, readiness, effectiveness at work, etc. I have a feeling that the above findings would apply.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Hmm… Seems like it is easier to just not go to police-state, I mean school…


      Get a GED, kids then go to college!

    7. Miles says:


      They may as well study whether bears really shit in the woods. It’s pretty obvious to most of us …

      The people have spoken! We have chosen to use cannabis regardless of brutal laws or threats of getting tested. This is America at it’s finest – standing up to tyranny!

    8. TheOracle says:

      Same ole, same ole testing that does not identify the time of impairment so it can’t tell if it was off-duty use or on-duty use.

      The military ought use impairment at the time of the tests to rule out leisure time use. You can get piss blind drunk and as long as it you don’t come in hung over on a work day, nobody gives a shit. The military pisses away more money buying all this other shit that trickles down to the drug warriors, you know, like their SWAT equipment going to cops, so they can initiate the impairment at time of test equipment implementation and get all the bugs worked out then when they get new the fairer at time of test technology can roll downhill, too. You can go off-duty to some party or event and drink yourself so drunk you have difficulty focusing your eyes and pass out, then wake up feeling like shit in your own vomit and realizing you pissed yourself while you were out cold.

      Just carding people and looking for the big 2 of being stoned (1 the smell of smoked weed, 2 bloodshot eyes) while someone is on the job or behind the wheel ought to do it. There are you two prongs in the 2 big things to look for. Once the US inevitably legalizes I will expect the military to adapt.

      Well, on the bright side, what better way to see everybody’s meat! Who has got what? J. Edgar Hoover appears to be still live and well. Well, it could be a way of picking who you want to date and then broach things with them later to see if they are receptive doing things together and ultimately winding up in the sack together. There has to be a less humiliating way and fairer way of testing. The old tests are based on old ideas of uninformed people who are long gone.

      The feds need to answer the letter with good news that they are going to give the go-ahead to legal cannabis banking, basically tell the banks it’s okay to accept cannabis money and that the feds calling off the dawgz.

    9. Galileo Galilei says:

      I’m actually surprised that drug testing doesn’t work. I’m NOT surprised that it continues despite evidence it doesn’t work.

      When drug testing is “…associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana”. This is a monstrous perversion driving people from a relatively innocuous substance to dangerous crap like heroin, meth, alcohol and nicotine.

    10. TheOracle says:

      I just read on marijuana.com that Colorado put in for a $7 million grant for MMJ research, and they had better effing get it. As someone who has been battling cancer, I want absolutely every possibility for cures researched. You know, I’m just so tired of some asshole in a decision-making position telling me that cannabis is off-limits, not an option. And then these assholes get together and make everybody in the world put up with this shit. It’s always different when it’s you so why do people who do not need cannabis medically get to decide this shit. They have no sense of urgency. What the hell do they care? It’s not them. Many a prohibitionist has changed their tune when it comes to cannabis and someone they know or when cancer or some shit hits them.

      Like Governor Christie was such a fat prick to Vivian Wilson’s dad and with this hemp legislation in NJ it sure would be nice if NJ loosened up all the restrictions on cannabis MMJ and recreational. State would be raking in the bucks if you could get seeds there, too. Atlantic City needs a boost now that neighboring states have jumped on the casino money train. I can see it now: vacation in New Jersey and buy some weed and some seeds to take home with you, lotta people coming up I95 from the Carolinas and the South, too. $Kaching$