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Drug testing and basic statistics

The United States currently has over 2 million people in prison. One out of a little over 100 adults are in jail in the US. That's more than any other modern nation that we know of, more than China both in percent and total numbers, more than Saudi Arabia or other highly authoritarian states. In fact, looking at times and places were records or reasonable estimates are available, the only nations that beat us in recent history are the Nazis at their zenith, the USSR at the height of Stalin's Gulags, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge madness. The one country in the world today who might give us a run for the money is North Korea and we can't even be sure of that because the North Koreans aren't known for the transparency. The reason we're number one? Simple: our drug laws. And you don't have to actually have illegal drugs, or even go to jail, for those insane laws to screw your life up royally. Thanks to drug laws the government can take your home, your savings, even your kids, without proving a thing.

The latest insane drug case comes to us from Pennsylvania, where a new mother was tested for drugs as she was giving birth. What happened next can only be described as a nightmare that has sadly become all too common in this nation's war on drugs:

According to the lawsuit, the level of opiates in Mort's system was well below federal workplace drug testing standards and was caused by Mort ingesting a bagel containing poppy seeds before giving birth. The lawsuit also alleges that Mort passed a subsequent drug test and that Children and Youth Services admitted the mistake, but kept her daughter in foster care for five days ...

So, a lady goes into the hospital to give birth, should be a joyous time for her and her family. But she had the audacity to eat a bagel that week, and for some bizarre reason that hospital, or state, has as a policy of randomly drug testing new mothers, not because they show signs of drug use, but just, well, because. The test produces a false positive, and big brother literally rips the newborn baby out of the mother's arms. Why in the hell was a hospital even looking? I'm sure because some politician somewhere passed an asinine law to garner votes and prey on voters' fears. I hope they sue that hospital for every dime they've got. Better yet, wouldn't it be great if voters would fire any legislators responsible?

Here's the problem with drug testing on a large scale, it absolutely assures positive results regardless if any of those tested are using drugs or not. And positives of any kind, false or valid, are a great justification for more drug testing for politicians and sheriffs to show they're ''tough" on crime! Let's say you drug test 1000 people with a test that's 98% effective. Sounds good right? You might think 98% of the people that get nailed are guilty. But it doesn't work out that way.

Simple case, 98% accuracy means the test is wrong 2% of the time. So even if all 1000 people are drug free, the test will come up positive for 20 of them. If say 50 out of the 1000 tested do actually have drugs in their system, 49 will produce valid positive results, 19 will produce false positives, and one lucky user might come up negative. So even for a test that's 98% accurate, in that last hypothetical case, one-third of those who tested positive are innocent; in cases where no one has drugs in their system, everyone who comes up positive is innocent. And that's just in one set of tests. If an employee gets tested every year, over a 25 year career at that company, the odds that they will come up positive sooner or later -- even if they're completely drug free all those years -- are about 50/50.  How do you like those odds? Would you like to flip a coin with your job, or child, or possible prison time, on the table if you lose? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Speaking of insane drug laws, did you know you can go to jail for decades just for having a valid, prescribed medication? Believe it, because its happened more than once. In Florida a man with 58 painkillers was arrested, he'd been prescribed the meds eight months earlier, meaning he was obviously using them as prescribed, but the prosecutor still went after him under a new law that allows the police to charge someone they 'suspect' of trafficking in legally prescribed medication. And by suspect, we mean anyone they say. Anyone includes you. You can be arrested and charged with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a serious felony, and put in jail for years simply because a cop 'thinks' you might sell some. Which means anyone taking delivery of a controlled substance in Florida and a bunch of other states who are eagerly following suit is a potential felon the moment the pharmacists hands over the script.

In that case, the victim was released on appeal after two freaking years in jail. By which time the state had completely cleaned him out to the tune of thousands of dollars in savings, cars, and two homes, thanks to forfeiture laws and legal fees. What a scam; why bother with expensive police officers and drug task forces and the DEA, when all the state need do under that deal is go into retirement homes and arrest half the patient population? Take those drug using senior citizens off the street and steal their savings all in one swoop! If they finally win an apeal just kick them out penniless like they did that guy. The 58 year-old victim left prison without even the clothes on his back. His only possessions were a pair of prison issued paper pants and shirt.

Just another nameless victim out of thousands and thousands of nameless victims of the insane war on drugs in America. A war alive and well in the great state of Texas.


  • Kamrom 4 years ago

    Monsterous. Drug laws, sex-offender laws, and on and on and on. We dont need conspiracy theorists in the US..The policies that are enforced are just as bad as any plot dreamed up by the mentally ill. law enforcement is a joke. This is a country where you can be arrested and tried and jailed for recording a police officer who uses unnecessary force. This is a country where police can kill an innocent victim, claim they thought he was armed, and get away with what would send a normal person to prison for life.

    America is dead. Long Live america.

  • Profile picture of Dan Feidt
    Dan Feidt 4 years ago

    What's funny/sad even more, is how much drug money goes through the banking system. Every authoritarian DrugTesting Enthusiast gets squirrelly and wants to run away when this angle enters the picture - bet on it.

  • George Arndt 4 years ago

    I wonder how many of the politicians behind these policies claim to believe in "freedom"?

  • Profile picture of Walter the Great
    Walter the Great 4 years ago

    I think the war on drugs will only get worse. The mood of the country is taking a giant swing to the right. To make matters worse many associate drugs with undocumented immigrants. I even knew people who would like the death penalty for even casual users. They are a minority, but still. Even drug users are often in favor of the war on drugs. I think this is a culture that enjoys punishment for punishment sake. Maybe it has to do with America’s puritanical roots. The worse damage is on Latin American countries. Mexico alone has already lost 28,000 people on the war on drugs. If we count Colombia and Bolivia the number might be well over a 100,000 and that is just the casualties, we are not counting the economic stagnation and social turmoil the war on drug has created. The war on drugs is evil and immoral. Future generations will think of us as we think of the Nazis and ask “what did we do to stop it?”

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