Why You Really Have to Take a Hair Follicle Drug Test

Have you ever wondered what the rationale was behind the need to take a hair follicle drug test?  It would be nice if you were required to take a hair follicle test because your job involved public safety like in the case of an airline pilot or if drugs impaired your ability to perform certain tasks like being a parent (assuming you’re not high around your children).  But, sadly, the real reason most people have to take a hair follicle drug test is because there’s a profit or personal benefit motive behind it.

The vast majority of jobs where a hair follicle drug test is required have nothing to do with public safety.  Yes, I want my surgeon to be clean before performing an operation on me but does it really make a difference if the hotel receptionist gets high and watches cartoons on their day off?

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should you have to take a hair follicle drug test?

Is one’s parenting skills impaired by infrequent marijuana usage?  I don’t know, maybe we can ask the millions of parents who got high while raising children during the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s before courts began denying custody and visitation rights based on what someone might have done anytime within the last 90 days.

No, the real truth of the matter is that the reason drug testing has become all of the rage the last few decades is because corporations make a ton of money convincing employers, judges, and even the general public that identifying and denying things to anyone using drugs somehow makes us safer or saves us money.

What kind of numbers are we talking about?  Well, in 2014, the drug and alcohol testing industry raked in about $4 billion dollars.  That’s hardly chump change.

Analysts estimate that by 2019, that number will grow to $6.3 billion.

In a recent earnings release, Psychemedics, one of the leading drug testing firms, blamed poor results on a sluggish job market in the US.  Presumably, when there’s more people being employed for high paying jobs business picks up for drug testing companies.

It doesn’t take incredible business acumen to figure out that drug testing companies benefit from selling the idea that requiring employees to take a hair follicle drug test somehow benefits the company paying for the drug test.  And, it also doesn’t require a huge leap of faith to conclude that it’s in the interest of drug testing companies to promote anything that supports that narrative regardless of how shoddy the research.

The reason most people have to take a hair follicle drug test is primarily because drug testing companies like to make money.

Why do you have to take a hair follicle drug test?

Politicians, especially conservatives, crack down on welfare recipients in an attempt to win votes by requiring them to take hair follicle drug test despite the fact that no hard evidence exists suggesting that these programs are even effective.  In states like Florida, the cost of administering the program has far exceeded the money saved by the state rejecting public aid to those who test positive.

Courts have likewise been duped into thinking that marijuana usage is somehow predictive of one’s ability to care for a child or whether one is worthy of being allowed to continue probation.  There are no credible studies suggesting that either of those to be true but if your divorce attorney can find any little thing to bolster their case that you’re an unfit parent, regardless of whether or not is has any bearing on actual parenting, it can be used in court.

And, of course, employers are the ultimate stooge in all of this as in many cases, the only reason they require employees to take a hair follicle drug test is because it’s the fad going around in HR circles.  The drug testing companies fill their heads with all sorts of worst case scenarios and potential legal liabilities and the next thing you know, the company is coughing over a sizeable chunk of revenues over to a drug testing company.

Always keep in mind that drug testing is a business.  A very large business.  The reasons why many people have to take a hair follicle drug test, ultimately, have nothing to do with getting better employees or making society a better place.

Are there legitimate reasons to require someone to take a hair follicle drug test?  Sure.  Society is probably better off if pilots, surgeons, and specific other professions adhere to a zero tolerance policy.  Likewise, if it is suspected that drug use is interfering with a parent’s ability to care for their children, a hair follicle drug test can be useful in establishing that drugs have been used.

However, nowadays, any drug use, even with no evidence whatsoever of negative effects, is grounds for denying someone a job or even their rights under the law.  Not because employers or society are getting a better result from creating a zero tolerance policy but so that drug testing companies can sell more drug tests.

And that is the real reason you have to take a hair follicle drug test.