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Drug Testing: Pass or Fail?

Matthew: Well, in defense of the school, I think that before they can drug test you, you have to sign a consent form. And I think that's the preservation of the Fourth Amendment right there by the school.

Stephanie: Also, the Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable search and seizure. I don't see this as unreasonable at all, because it's obvious that teenagers do drugs, and there is a drug problem, and we need to fix that problem. Just like they brought up in the P.O.V. special, at an airport, we're all searched, you go through metal detectors, sometimes you have to be patted down for weapons. It's not unreasonable. We have recent terrorists, so it's not unreasonable to think everyone's a terrorist. We have kids with drug problems, so it's not unreasonable to think that it's a possibility that the majority of kids are on drugs. Don't we have to protect our kids by doing that?

Kate: When, Ryan, Pat, and I were watching the movie, the general consensus was that the airport analogy was absolutely inapplicable. Because number one, you're not legally forced to go to an airport. It's a choice. At Central, if you don't sign the consent form you can't participate in after-school activities, and aren't after-school activities a basic part of education? I mean, you're basically denying yourself that. I'm in Amnesty International at school, and I know that if Amnesty wasn't a part of my life, it's just such a big deal to me that I don't think I should have to give up my privacy in order to be part of it.

Stephanie: I don't agree, Kate. I think that we're definitely guaranteed an education, and I think that after-school activities, sports, and clubs and parking spots and stuff, I think that's a privilege. I mean, if we get detention, we don't have the right to go the club instead of detention. We have to go and serve our punishment. If you get caught doing something a lot worse, you could be not allowed to have your parking spot. If you have a parking violation, your parking spot is taken away. That's a privilege.

Patrick: I pose the question that don't you think after-school activities in themselves are a convenient and healthy deterrent of drugs?

Kate: I don't know, I think a lot of the jocks do drugs, but that's just my own opinion.

Ryan: If I may step in, I'm going to go ahead out on a limb here and say that the student athletes at Hunterdon Central really don't mess around with drugs at all. Basically, what I've heard is that they're generally kind of afraid of anything that's not beer.

Stephanie: Beer's a drug.

John: We're getting a lot of different ideas and opinions here on what constitutes a drug and what constitutes abuse. We've talked about steroids, we've talked about marijuana, we've talked about taking cough syrup, we've talked about the problem of cocaine in Lockney. What do you consider to be a dangerous drug? How do you feel about the level of drug abuse, or the drugs that are being used? Which ones do you feel are dangerous, and do you feel that any of them are not dangerous?

Ryan: I'm going to cite Harvard professor Dr. Timothy Leary, who classified drugs into two different categories, the psychoactive and the opposite of that, the blackout drugs. So you can say right there that if there's two divisions, there's the drugs that are either stimulants that get your brain working, and there's also the drugs like barbituates, heroin, opiates, things like that, on any far end of the spectrum, the more serious drugs with more intense effects. Those drugs tend to be harmful, obviously, that's why they're hard to come by, or have stricter penalties, or whatever. But when it comes down to it, I think that, in the center spectrum — which is all we're concerned about, basically, at Hunterdon Central — there's not a big problem with heroin at Central, there's not a problem with kids tripping on acid in the hallways, there's not a cocaine problem or anything like that. It's basically just alcohol, marijuana, caffeine. And there's kids all over who are going to try everything. It's like what Pat said with the teenage attitude, and broadening your horizons to different levels of consciousness or whatever. But aside from that, most people just have that core schedule of, 'It's Friday night, let's drink some beer.' Or a bunch of guys will go out together and say, 'Well, let's smoke a little marijuana' or whatever. They're not kids that are going out and revolve their lives around drug abuse, and 'I'm going to quit my job and sit in the gutter all weekend and drink beer, I don't want to do anything.' That's not how Central students are. Usually none of them actually have what I would call 'a problem.'

Matthew: But a drug is still a drug, and you can still get addicted to alcohol, or you can still get addicted to marijuana, and in this case...

John: We seem to have some disagreement here.

Matthew: What, you can't get addicted to alcohol, or marijuana?

Kate: You can't get addicted to marijuana.

Matthew: You can't? It's impossible? (incredulous)

Kate: Pretty much, yeah.

Matthew: Impossible! (incredulous)

Ryan: There are two forms of addiction to anything, there's physical addiction and mental addiction. You have a drug like heroin, once heroin enters your bloodstream, it's in your system, your cell membranes and receptors start to change, and after that your body becomes physically addicted. And then there's things like addiction to marijuana or whatever, and people say, 'Oh my God, I need it,' people bug out. It's just a regular mental addiction, and it can be to anything. You could be addicted to Twix bars, or watching a certain TV show, chocolate, anything like that. There's no proof anywhere, after about a century of laboratory testing, that marijuana is physically addictive in any way.

John: Okay, we have just a few moments left in the program. We're going to go around with this one more time. Jackie, you have a comment?

Jackie: Yeah. I mean, I think the problem is there, I think the drug problem definitely is there. But I think that the method, the way we're doing it, would be a lot better if we focused more on education, or we focused on getting people who are at the source of it, who are really supplying and giving the kids the drugs, if we got those guys out first. By going and having everyone sign a paper that requires them to be pulled out of their classes to participate in this, I don't think that's really as effective as it could be.

Matthew: I think until we find a better method, such as the ones proposed here today, I think random drug testing is going to have to do. And even though I sometimes agree with the fact that the method may be bad, I feel it's a good deterrent. And, you know, just to respond to one thing that was said today, about how if we neutralize the people dealing — then you're just going to have the people that want it left. And that's an entire problem in itself, because if those people want it, then they're going to become the ones that start dealing it. It's just one cycle that goes around. I feel that until a better method comes around, random drug testing is the way to go here at Central.

Stephanie: I think the war on drugs is absolutely necessary. I don't know if the word 'war' is the right word, but I honestly don't think, like Pat said earlier, that they're trying to weed out the bad seeds. I don't think anyone's trying to weed anyone out or pick anyone off. The goal of the school and the goal of the community as a whole is to help these kids. I honestly don't think the school's out to kick these kids out, or put them in jail, or quarantine them forever, or something. I think they're out to get them counseling, or get them into a drug program, to motivate them to get themselves off of drugs and onto better things.

Kate: I actually, in a sense, have to agree with Matt here, because I think that when there is a demand for something you're always going to have a supply, so rather than knocking out the supply, you need to get rid of the demand for it. And I think our own antidrug programs need to be improved, rather than saying, 'drugs are bad, drugs are bad, drugs are bad,' and having kids go and try them and realize, 'hey, they're not that bad,' I think we just need to change our educational programs, and that's where the solution to this problem is going to be found, not the random drug testing.

Patrick: Real quick. I don't think we would ever be able to, realistically, get rid of the demand for drugs. I mean, Prohibition proved that. They got rid of the supply of the alcohol, for the most part, but the demand was so great that they bootlegged alcohol. So I don't think that we will ever get rid of a demand for drugs in America.





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