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Prove You Aren’t On Drugs, Kid

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The teen years are a seriously hellish time for many, but consider adding this to your memories of that bygone era: You haven’t done anything wrong, in fact you’ve been a marvelous example to other youth, participating in extracurricular activities, getting involved in things like student council and debate. Come a little closer;  they want to reward you with something our Supreme Court has deemed a worthy consequence for such splendid behavior. That’s it, a little closer….yep, that’s what is needed….. 60 of your hairs, cut from your head. Oh, no it isn’t an assault, or school administrators just being slightly power mad (on a CSI binge)—nothing like that. This is for your best interest. You see, our Supreme Court has decided that it is entirely lawful, without cause of any kind, to take these hairs from your head in the hopes the testing might catch some poor decisions from the last few months. It was decided by the court that public schools can’t drug test all kids, but they can test kids who participate in extracurricular activities. For some reason, the perceived element of choice gave some ideological loophole to the beautiful minds of that court. I don’t know if Scalia said “ask the nearest hippie” in regard to this issue. If so, he did the opposite of what they recommended. Never mind the 4th amendment, and its protection against unreasonable search and seizures. That’s just a damn piece of paper that these kids probably use to roll their weed up in.

And of course there are companies there to reap the benefits of tax payer funded testing of kids, such as Psychemedics (Nasdaq: PMD). There have been a few issues for the company, workplace lawsuits from folks with too much melanin in their hair (evidently melanin helps soak up the drugs at a much higher rate, possibly even from second hand exposure if you believe some claims), but all that is fixed, they assure us. None of that is going on! Workplace drug testing has kind of hit a roadblock, of course nobody wants their pilot high, well you know what I mean….but the myriad of low paying jobs out there being created, well, it doesn’t seem so many give a shit if the guy making the latte is a little stoned, so the real area for increase in share value is in the testing of these kids. And the soft pots of taxpayer funds are there at the ready to find all that pot. And if the kids test positive, the parents in most cases are expected to cough up the money to clear the kid through subsequent tests. It’s a no brainer to see the possibilities, and realize the potential profit available. I’m sure the CEOs of such companies realize this, heck $738,247 in pay and equity (per SEC 2014 annual proxy statement for CEO of PMD Raymond Kubacki) isn’t nearly enough to make you a true oligarch. It makes you a douche making a ton of money off civil liberty violations, sure, but lots more hair needs to be cut to achieve loftier goals. Oh, and if the results are positive, PMD keeps the hair/dna/whatever for 5 years. “Industry standard” or such. Who knows what the hell that’s about.

Of course the old line “DO YOU WANT THESE KIDS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE RAPE OF ELDERLY CHURCHGOERS!?” is particularly effective. Nobody wants that. But more seriously, nobody does want kids to be hurt, but the propaganda associated with this type of testing is dangerous in and of itself. Telling kids how incredibly dangerous marijuana is (and say they actually try it)….well, you’ve lost your credibility when they analyze their own experience, and the poor kid might assume what he or she has heard about things like meth might be similarly “overblown”. That my friends, is unintended consequences. The tests hit a few different drugs, and there are also alcohol tests, but of course, THC is the one that seems to cling like hell to the body. It is certainly the driver of this testing, and the states that have legalized it are being used in the propaganda…..it’s a sales pitch that goes like this: these kids are getting the wrong impression from places like Colorful Colorado that weed is okay, so it is all the more important to be testing the kids in response to this interstate philosophy menace.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, that notorious group of stoners, is against this testing. Things like cost, privacy and— oh yeah…..the unintended consequences. A school with simple minds, but good intentions might decide to implement hair testing through a contracted, for profit company. This testing might be costly enough that it diverts funds from activities that are healthy, and known to keep kids from drinking and doing drugs. Or try this one on…..a kid stops participating in activities because of the looming testing. That is the way to avoid the tests; don’t participate in anything extracurricular.  Perhaps he or she is worried because they tried some weed a couple months ago. So they quit the activities, and have much more free time to do things like try harder drugs, thus earning us more raped elderly churchgoers. Or perhaps a kid is very good at a sport, good enough even to earn a scholarship, but drops out for similar reasons…..a lost scholarship could have a trajectory that leads to a very sad place. Much worse than that kid trying some weed. Another unintended consequence could be kids trying out more dangerous synthetic crap that isn’t picked up on the testing. It really doesn’t take much imagination to come up with fairly likely scenarios, most likely the reason the Pediatricians are against this. They realize the world is a nuanced place, and throwing money in the direction of greedy companies doesn’t necessarily fix a complicated problem.

The companies rely on the local parents to be quiet if they do have concerns over the testing. It’s a very similar situation to the Patriot Act implementation. People have misgivings, but they shy away from voicing them, lest they look like terrorist sympathizers or an extra from “Dazed and Confused”.

The most effective manner to mold the shape of society in the coming years is surely to acclimate the young to situations that would come across as repugnant to those who are older. Things we wouldn’t have tolerated. We’ve seen the bizarre manner in which terms like “active shooter situation” has a clear meaning to kids today, something that would have been met with a resounding “huh?” during my 80’s youth. It’s all quite tragic. Insurmountable student loan debt is another sickening fact of life for many young adults who have the audacity to attempt an education of sorts. The assaults to the young keep coming. Having creeps cut off your hair in high school in the hopes of finding out you had a joint 3 months ago is hoped to be the new normal by these private companies. They will truly profit in the loss of basic dignity for kids. It’s no wonder there are kids flipping out from the unrelenting application of stress we allow to be placed upon them. Is this the life we want for them? A prove you aren’t a criminal existence in response to wanting to play in the school band!?

But be alert…..these profit hounds, if not already there, will be at your local schools soon, and they will tell you it is all about the safety of children, while ignoring The American Academy of Pediatrics (who do not have a financial stake in this sort of testing). PMD: $8.02/share (up .78% for Jan. 27)

Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest and can be reached at klwallace@riseup.net

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