We’ve been covering the abomination of civil asset forfeiture in this blog for years. This is a legal tool that was created to seize the ill-gotten gains of drug kingpins, but in reality it has turned into policing drug users for profit.
In a civil asset forfeiture case, your property is charged with the crime of being financed by drug money or gained through drug crime. Being property, it doesn’t get civil liberties; it is considered guilty until proven innocent. Thus, if you’re caught growing a marijuana plant or even possessing some marijuana, in some cases your car, your home, and your money are charged with a crime, seized by the police, and sold at auction (or re-purposed by the police – see any number of D.A.R.E. Corvettes).
Here’s the astounding part: you yourself don’t actually have to be charged with any crimes. Any drug crimes you might have been charged with could be dropped, for lack of evidence, for instance, but your property could still be seized by police in a civil asset forfeiture. It would then be incumbent on you to hire a lawyer to go to court to fight for your car, home, and cash back. What’s that, how do you hire a lawyer to rescue your assets when you have no assets? Exactly, which is why civil asset forfeiture has essentially become legalized stealing by police departments who know defendants in most cases can’t afford to fight back. In some cases, the cost of suing to get the assets returned is more than the value of the assets.
But it’s not always fancy Corvettes and new SUVs that the police departments are buying, like Georgia police that have spent $30 million in drug seizure disbursements to purchase things like laptops and tactical gear. In Fayette County, Georgia, about $115,000 of it was spent flying, feeding, and lodging sheriffs who attended seminars in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. In Palatine, Illinois, $65,000 of seized money was approved to purchase new fitness equipment for the police station. And now, in Suffolk County (Long Island) New York, money seized from pot smokers is being used to help parents drug test their kids at home:
Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco has purchased drug test kits to distribute to parents free of charge.
The program aims to offer free drug test kits that can be used in privacy to assist parents and guardians with monitoring the behavior of their children who are under the age of 18.
And the sooner the better. A drug use intervention plan is much easier to implement on a 13 or 14 year old child who may be experimenting with marijuana or prescription drugs than on an older teen engaging in heroin and cocaine use. However, parents can, and should, engage in active intervention with their children under the age of 18 if they suspect a drug use problem.
Test kits have been purchased by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and are made available to residents in Suffolk County. The kits were not paid for by taxpayers but funded with money seized from drug dealers. The program aims to offer free drug test kits that can be used in privacy to assist parents and guardians with monitoring the behavior of their children who are under the age of 18.
So in one program, Sheriff DeMarco has combined two abominations of the drug war – asset forfeiture and drug testing – and combined them into one propaganda monstrosity. Never mind that the American Association of Pediatrics amended its adolescent drug-testing policy to include a statement discouraging home drug testing by parents. The pediatricians’ group also notes that “drug testing poses substantial risks—in particular, the risk of harming the parent-child and school-child relationships by creating an environment of resentment, distrust, and suspicion”. The pediatricians explain the complex protocols that must be followed to guarantee drug test validity in a laboratory setting and that “most parents cannot implement the federal collection protocol and, for ethical and developmental reasons, should not directly observe their teenaged children urinating.” They also examined the harm that drug testing may pose to adolescents:
It is fairly easy to defeat drug tests, and most drug-involved youth are all too familiar with ways to do so. Even properly collected specimens must have checks for validity (eg, urine specific gravity and creatinine), because the easiest way to defeat a drug testing is by simple dilution. Even when properly collected and validated, urine drug tests yield very limited information. With the exception of marijuana, the window of detection for most drugs of abuse is 72 hours or less. Therefore, negative test results indicate only that the adolescent did not use a specific drug during the past several days. Even adolescents with serious drug problems may have negative test results on most occasions. Standard drug-testing panels also do not detect many of the drugs most frequently abused by adolescents, such as alcohol, ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA]), and inhalants, and information on the limitations of screening tests and ways to defeat them is widely available to adolescents via the Internet. Widespread implementation of drug testing may, therefore, inadvertently encourage more students to abuse alcohol, which is associated with more adolescent deaths than any illicit drug but is not included in many standard testing panels. Mandatory drug testing may also motivate some drug-involved adolescents to change from using drugs with relatively less associated morbidity and mortality, such as marijuana, to those that pose greater danger (eg, inhalants) but are not detected by screening tests.
But if you’re worried about your Google-savvy kid looking up how to beat your drug test online, never fear. In Maryland, the manufactured need for drug testing has spawned a new start-up industry: mobile drug testing! We can’t get a doctor to make house calls in this country, but we can get a former restaurant worker/driver and his wife to show up at your home or place of business, secure your restroom against any specimen tampering, and tell you on the spot whether your child’s or employee’s pee is worthy of your approval:
Earlier this year, the Annapolis couple became the Maryland contractor for Mobile Drug Testing, an agency that provides door-to-door testing services. As a result, they get a steady supply of instant test kits that can detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates and other drugs.
Jim Kopernick worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly 20 years. Because he occasionally drove for his company, he had to undergo drug testing. But he became frustrated about going to clinics and waiting three hours to begin the process.
When the Kopernicks learned about Mobile Drug Testing, they saw it as a way to leave the corporate world. They charge $30 for simple drug testing on up to $400 for DNA tests. They have three people who work underneath them as collection agents.
On assignments with individual clients, they go to the person’s home, receive a cash payment and take down personal information. Then they secure the bathroom — tape up the soap dispenser, seal the ceiling ventilation and place bluing tablets inside the toilet — and have them provide a urine sample. Results can be given instantly.
There is no magic test that is going to keep your child or employee off drugs. The biggest unaddressed problem with drug testing is that it has become a substitute for good parenting and good management. A parent or manager who pays attention to and nurtures their children or employees is going to notice the first signs of drug abuse long before any pee test will. A child or employee who isn’t using drugs will be offended and humiliated to have to pee for your approval. A child or employee who is using drugs is going to cheat and beat the test, leaving you mistakenly believing everything is fine; or fail the test, leaving them feeling punished and shamed (or fired); or refuse to take the test, forcing you into a showdown that will drive a greater wedge between the two of you.
In the case of the adult employees, it’s not even worth your time (or any of your business) to test them for marijuana in the first place. We’re hard-working, loyal, safe, productive employees who just like to relax with weed instead of beer. You’re wasting your money by testing us and you’re also missing out on quite a few smart, talented, principled pot smokers who refuse to pee for employment.
In the case of teenage children, it’s a tougher issue to be sure. If they’re not using marijuana, your push for drug testing is just going to open up trust issues. If they’ve decided to use marijuana, your pressure for drug testing is just going to push them toward drugs that don’t show up as well on drug tests. This isn’t the time for some company’s chemical assay to help your child – it’s time for you to have some honest discussions with your teenager.