The debate about whether public schools should or should not allow drug testing of students is one which started in the George W. Bush administration. Schools were given funding to test students as an anti-drug measure and to give help to students who might be experimenting with drugs. While there is a potential to help some students who might have problems with drug abuse, there are several reasons why drug testing should not be allowed in public schools.


Drug tests must have limitations on what they are testing for. While a drug test might test for the main drugs the school might think students are taking, students can come up negative, even if they are taking those drugs. The tests have set limitations for the drugs they test for, which means that if the drug is not one being tested, the student will come up negative. As a result, it is ineffective at finding all of the students who might be at risk.

Drinking Water

A student can drink water to make the drugs in their system undetected by the test. Two liters of water will dilute the drug so it is not detected by a drug test according to Dr. Sharon Levy in an interview with reporter Victoria Clayton from MSNBC. This means that several students might get by taking drugs even if they take a drug which the test should pick up.

Does Not Stop Drug Use

Drug testing supposedly gives students a reason to quit using the drug or say "no" to the drug in the first place, but the reality is that students who are using drugs will continue even with the threat of testing. The common consequence is losing extracurricular activities, which the students might have given up before testing or not be involved in in the first place, making this punishment irrelevant. Ryan Grim on states that some schools with random drug testing actually ended up with more marijuana use than before the testing began.

High Cost

Random drug testing in public high schools is expensive to implement and the money can be spent on other areas of the school’s needs, like improving the extracurricular activities in the school, buying new books for students or even implementing drug-prevention strategies for at risk students. Seth DiStefano points out on that students who are tested for drugs, which are primarily students involved in extracurricular activities like school sports, are less likely to abuse drugs or use illegal substances because they are already leading an active lifestyle and have a positive influence in their lives due to these activities. The high cost of ineffective testing only puts a further financial strain on schools.