[Skip to Navigation]
Sign In
December 5, 1986

Mandatory Unindicated Urine Drug Screening: Still Chemical McCarthyism

JAMA. 1986;256(21):3003-3005. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380210099035

In the late 1960s as the psychoactive drug abuse epidemic spread throughout this country, the advance of toxicologic technology prompted many troubled and well-intentioned persons to propose a new solution to this old plague: urine drug screening.

Society was looking hard for solutions. Probation department officials perceived the need to monitor parolees, leaders of methadone maintenance treatment programs for heroin addiction sought to convert previously hopeless addicts into functioning citizens, and the US military was being harmed seriously by widespread, demoralizing psychoactive drug use among its personnel. Urine drug screening was established as one approach to deal with these complicated problems. At that time, I was actively involved in medical aspects of drug abuse and toxicology in one of the focal points of this problem—southern California—that was being called "the largest open-air insane asylum in the world."

Concerned about hypocrisy, injustice, and infringements of civil liberties and aware that there

Add or change institution