Knowing of my public campaign to legalize marijuana, students often ask me if I get high before teaching. I always tell them this would be a tragic waste of pot.
But my real reason for workplace abstinence has nothing to do with stash preservation.
Getting high, stoned or drunk at work demonstrates contempt for the employer, client and consumer. It doesn't even matter that for some jobs, some drugs may actually enhance performance. The bottom line is that work and self-indulgent decadence are incompatible bedfellows.
Advocating sobriety in the workplace doesn't inexorably lead to supporting workplace drug testing. Having said that, I believe police officers are the exception and should be drug tested. On Tuesday, March 8, the police services board decided to postpone any decision on this very point for a two-month consultation period.
Let's be clear. Drug testing is a nasty invasion of privacy. And collecting people's urine is a bizarre strategy for maximizing employee productivity and ensuring workplace safety. Urine is waste material and in waste you find evidence of past use but not necessarily present use.
Urine drug testing is really all about lifestyle control. It has little to do with workplace safety.
Of course I want airline pilots, bus drivers and heart surgeons to be sober while attending to my safety, but I really don't care if these people snort a little coke, puff a little weed or throw back a few stiff ones in their spare time. It's none of my business.
Nonetheless, I find it amusing that opposition and debate has arisen over the proposal to commence random drug testing of police officers in "high-risk" jobs. Mayor David Miller recently expressed the opinion that drug testing would be a violation of civil liberties in the absence of clear evidence demonstrating that drug use is a problem within the force.
I commend the mayor for recognizing that random drug testing engages a potentially serious rights violation, but Mayor Miller forgot the words of another great leader: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. He fails to recognize that the rights of police are tempered and modified by their legal duties and statutory powers.
When it comes to the police, it doesn't really matter that urine testing can only detect past use. Unlike those in any other profession, the police are armed with guns, pepper spray and the legal authority to use force, all in the name of enforcing the criminal code.
The law currently prohibits illicit drug use, and it stands to reason that those who can deprive illicit drug users of their liberty (and beat them in the process if they resist) should themselves be drug-free.
Hypocrisy can make a mockery of the rule of law, and this is why I don't think it's necessary to collect empirical data linking drug use by officers to the recent corruption scandal or any other police fiasco. In being placed in the unique position of exercising power, authority and force over those who make illegal lifestyle choices, the police officer should be required to relinquish a bit of privacy to prove that he or she is not engaged in the very same illegal lifestyle.
The same logic would dictate that criminal court judges and federal prosecutors be subjected to random drug testing, but the chances of that happening are about as good as getting politicians to take polygraph tests while making campaign promises.