Monday, July 21, 2014

A thought experiment: The case for drug tests for business licenses

I'm writing this article as a thought experiment. I will start by saying that I am totally against the war on drugs and I see the current regime of severe punishment for mere possession of drugs counterproductive. The harsh sentencing guidelines that judges have to deal with provide no latitude for treatment over prison and seem almost uniquely designed to keep our prisons full.

The evolution of the war on drugs has led to drug testing in the workplace, a practice that is now common and even traditional for large firms. Government agencies routinely test for drugs for their employees. But they don't seem to test for drugs for most benefit programs, you know, like the TARP program, a part of the bailout plan for the big banks after the collapse of the housing bubble. What I offer for consideration in this article is drug testing for a business license. The regime is as follows: all persons named on the license must submit to an annual drug screen to make sure that they are free of drugs. If they fail the test, they lose the business license.

This does in a way, make sense to me. Businesses put their private property up for hire. The owners hire and fire employees. The owners create a dependence upon them for their services and infrastructure. I, for one, would like to know that I'm not enabling someone's drug habit, especially someone at the top.

The business is dependent upon the decision making skills of the employer, the owner. The people who depend upon the business need to know if their money is going to finance, either directly or indirectly, the sale or purchase of illegal drugs. Wouldn't you like to know if you're working for a ration employer who is free of drugs? I sure would.

Would you do business with a company where you knew the CEO was using pot, cocaine or barbiturates? Would you feel comfortable knowing that ultimately, any dispute with a front line employee could ultimately be decided by an owner who has a habit?

I favor treatment over prison in cases of drug use and possession. But I do think that as a citizen, I would like to see drug testing for business licenses. This might go a long way to cutting demand because a business owner who has time, might think he has the time to drift off.

Even as a thought experiment, it's hard to see all of the ramifications of instituting such measures. Humans are very creative and when they really want something, they will find a way to get it. That's just how we are and that is why the drug war won't work and never will. Even my idea here for testing for drugs for business licenses probably won't work when put to the test.

How many businesses would fold because of test failures? How many jobs would be lost? We don't know. Without drug testing for business licenses, we would never know for sure. The only thing we can be sure of is that if we don't like the service we're getting, we can go somewhere else with our money.
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