The thirst for urine can be traced to the military’s 1971 Operation Gold
April 13, 2013 6:47 AM   Subscribe

"Settling into an upholstered chair across from his mom, 50-year-old Marc Taulé laughs nervously, recalling the last time his mom made him hand over his urine—last year. To everyone’s surprise, he tested positive for cocaine. He’s not a cocaine user; he had been prescribed a painkiller called Lidocaine after minor surgery. “I love them, and just don’t want to see them in trouble,” Elaine Taulé explains." -- For The Nation, Isabel MacDonald looks at the history of drug testing and some of the characters who want every school child in America to pee in a cup.
posted by MartinWisse (22 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you've got nothing to hide....

And yes, that was a joke.

Cocaine is expensive. Who's going to waste it on kids?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]




The Congress-Drug Testing Company-Prison Industry Complex.

Just another Iron Triangle that callously shatters lives of the many as it fills the coffers of the few.
posted by absalom at 7:39 AM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


The courts struck down Florida’s law soon after it went into effect, following a lawsuit by the ACLU. In the meantime, only 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive for a drug, mostly for marijuana use. The tests cost the state $113,000, in addition to $595,000 in court-ordered retroactive benefits for those who tested positive or refused testing. By July 2012, Florida had spent $88,783 defending the program in court—a costly legal battle that the state ultimately lost when a court ruled in February to uphold the decision striking down the law.

Seriously, why are other states looking at this as a role model for their own programs? Why would anyone think that this will help children?
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:40 AM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I had one wish it would be that labs were legally ordered to act with the assumption that nobody on the receiving end of the results had any education about false positives, limitations of the assay, or basic medical information regarding interactions and alternate processes that could be going on.

But that would probably mean sending a 500 page textbook with every report. And nobody would read it, because after all, it's not their lab result now is it.

Everything we humans do is riddled with errors. There are no pure results in medicine, just stuff that works relatively well for most things, whether treatment or diagnostics. I wish more doctors would acknowledge that.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This article's title did not lead where I thought it would.

Apparently, when the British Army first introduced drug testing, the tester turned up at the Parachute Regiment's barracks in Aldershot. Urine samples were produced. They were tested. Some showed positive signs for drug usage. I should add at this point that a positive drug test is career ending for the soldier implicated and also that the Paras have a reputation for not being very couth and getting up to all sorts of antics when drunk.

The drug tester sat down with the commanding officer and explained that several soldiers had had positive tests. The commanding officer called in his Regimental Sergeant Major and told him to fetch the men who had given positive samples. Eventually the RSM came back with a question: if a soldier had drunk enough of a second soldier's urine, and that second soldier had taken drugs, could it generate a positive test?

The tester had no idea. The question had never come up before nor had the situation been anticipated. The results of the test were scrapped.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:46 AM on April 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


Seriously, why are other states looking at this as a role model for their own programs? Why would anyone think that this will help children?

Because it's being packaged and pushed to states by the companies that stand to make a profit, and no chicken-shit politician wants to be painted as "weak on crime" or "endangering our children" by their opponent. Combine that with the fact that the electorate's eyes glaze-over and their brains go on standby whenever you try to explain the facts, which require multiple paragraphs of real data, rather than simply toss-out pithy soundbites.

Lather, rinse, repeat.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:51 AM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because THINK OF THE CHILDREN is the quickest way to shut down people's critical faculties and open their wallets/tick your box. And compliant people giving you [cash | power] is an attractive constituency. Not surprising that plenty of ambitious, bright, unscrupulous people like something that gives them status and resources with poor oversight and no possible definition of failure.

This is a very basic human equation, and won't be changed - it's hard-wired in the way homo sapiens protects its young during their exceptionally long maturation and dependency phase, and its predisposition to accept magical agency. The only way out of it is to demonstrate the fallibity of the agency, and despite my Enlightenment soul, I fear the only way to do that is by displacing it with a better agency.

NASA did it for a bit...
posted by Devonian at 7:53 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not just the GOP. The Obama administration is pushing to increase drug testing by expanding Hawaii's HOPE program.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:17 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, why are other states looking at this as a role model for their own programs? Why would anyone think that this will help children?

Missouri just implemented basically the same thing Florida did (regardless of all the data that says the program is expensive, has no pay off, and basically just doesn't work at all) after it was signed into law by our Democratic governor.

If it makes you feel any better, I have a pretty intimate relationship with at least one Division of Family Services office in our state (disclosure: my momma works there) and EVERY SINGLE SOCIAL WORKER in that office has stated they won't bother with this. They'll never report someone that they perceive as a drug user and so no one will ever be tested at all. The workers there are overworked and underpaid and doing so would create more paperwork they certainly don't have time for plus they realize this isn't the problem people think it is and is thus, an exercise in bullshit in which they will not participate. It's also worth mentioning that many of these workers are full on Obama's A Socialist Conservatives.

Laws like this are bullocks but it's nice to see even 50 social workers out of however many in my state, however quietly, refuse to play into this.
posted by youandiandaflame at 8:25 AM on April 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Now well into middle age, and both employed at their mother’s drug-testing firm, her sons walk up to us and shyly ask permission to join the interview.

Settling into an upholstered chair across from his mom, 50-year-old Marc Taulé laughs nervously, recalling the last time his mom made him hand over his urine


That is one hell of an unhealthy and fantods-inducing parent-spawn relationship.
posted by kengraham at 8:32 AM on April 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The quote in the FPP is interesting. First of all, lidocaine is unusual to prescribe as a painkiller after surgery. There are some conceivable instances where it can happen, but not many. Second, although they are both local anesthetics, lidocaine and cocaine are sufficiently different chemically that lidocaine does not cause a false positive for cocaine. I am surprised a self proclaimed expert on drug testing does not know this.
posted by TedW at 9:19 AM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


So British soldiers drink each others urine? Good to know.
posted by shothotbot at 10:05 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Laws like this are bullocks ...

Perhaps you'd prefer laws that are geldings.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:16 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eventually the RSM came back with a question: if a soldier had drunk enough of a second soldier's urine, and that second soldier had taken drugs, could it generate a positive test? The tester had no idea...The results of the test were scrapped.

My mom taught me that the primary job of middle management is to protect your people from the whims of irrational higher ups. That's a good Sergeant Major, all the more so if his question had no basis in reality.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:57 AM on April 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I live in Ohio. The company I work for just announced that they are instituting a random drug testing policy. I'm going to Washington (where recreational marijuana use is legal) in August, and asked if a positive test for marijuana when I return would be a problem. I didn't really get an answer.

I don't really smoke pot anymore, but I was curious if the company I work for can prohibit me from engaging in a legal activity. It doesn't seem like they'd be able to, but then again, to me, pre-employment and random drug testing seem like an invasion of privacy in the first place, so what do I know?
posted by Ducks or monkeys at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone think that this will help children?

Maybe some of them are just pee freaks?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2013


Please note that the FPP title seems to have been cut short. This is the full sentence quoted from the article:
The thirst for urine can be traced to the military’s 1971 Operation Golden Flow, aimed at detecting druggies among Vietnam veterans.
Looks like somebody in the US army had the surrealizer turned up to 11 that year.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:03 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obligatory. Well, obligatory if you're me.

I am so grateful to our nation that I no longer have to worry that the minimum wage, minimally employed, utterly miserable person who is checking out my $5 bottle of Chilean wine is guaranteed to be drug free! My GOD imagine if that cashier had been smoking marijuana! She might not give a shit about my oh so special purchase. It would be terrible and a threat to national security. And I'm also delighted that every single time any low wage blue collar employee in this wonderful country gets hurt on the job they get immediately tested for drugs. That way, just in case they smoked a joint a week or two ago, they can be fired on the spot and the super mega corp they work for won't be liable for one single penny of their medical bills. I mean, that might cut into profit margins and we can't have that.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:22 PM on April 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Obligatory 2.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:43 PM on April 13, 2013


I am surprised a self proclaimed expert on drug testing does not know this.

You're surprised a woman who still tests her 50-year-old sons for drugs and runs a company advocating something proven by multiple studies over the past three decades to be ineffective doesn't know all the facts?
posted by Noms_Tiem at 3:51 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd just start my own business.
posted by Bubbles Devere at 5:53 PM on April 14, 2013


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