Feds Consider Hair Follicle Drug Testing, Which Critics Say Discriminates Against People of Color

While private businesses are decreasing the use of marijuana testing for employees, the federal government is talking about stepping up its own drug testing efforts.

Marijuana Moment reports:

A newly proposed federal rule would expand workplace drug testing programs by allowing certain employers to collect and analyze samples of workers’ hair, a move critics say would lead to disproportionate job-related punishments for people of color.

Federal agencies can already test workers’ urine and saliva, which provide evidence of more recent drug use, but “hair testing potentially offers several benefits when compared to urine, including directly observed collections, ease of transport and storage, increased specimen stability, and a longer window of drug detection,” the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) argued in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on Thursday.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) called the rule change discriminatory due to the tests’ sensitivity to melanin which is found in darker hair. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is also opposed to the new guidelines. If enacted, they could impact thousands of employees.

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