By Richard Cusick

The drugs you did last night, the drugs you did last week and the drugs you did last New Year’s Eve—they’re all in there, embedded or encoded in your urine, sweat, hair, saliva and blood. Not so long ago, the body was inviolate—a temple the law could not enter—but bad science and contemptible courts have since combined to make drug testing a part of American life, giving rise to a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry that exists solely to break the body into measurable pieces and detail your private life for the benefit of your employer or your government. Despite the Fourth Amendment’s clear guarantee of a right to privacy, courts have granted increasingly broad authority for random, suspicionless drug testing (see timeline on the next page), and what was unthinkable in this country a generation ago is taken for granted today. But the news isn’t all bad.

“The number of employers conducting drug testing is in a long-term decline,” Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, recently told HIGH TIMES. “And most employers who do test, only test for pre-employment.”

Maltby cites figures from American Management Association member surveys that show a steady decline in private-sector drug testing, from a peak of 81 percent in 1996 down to 62 percent in 2004. Why the drop?

“Employers are beginning to realize that drug testing is not producing any improvement in the bottom line,” Maltby says. “Most employers who bought into drug testing did so because the government and the drug-test industry promised it would increase safety and productivity, and that promise was not kept.”

Still, even as these economic realities finally sink in with the managers of corporate America, the federal government continues to tout drug testing as a magic-bullet solution—and cannabis smokers remain caught in the crosshairs. Remember, marijuana is by far the most widely used illicit drug and therefore the most widely detected substance in drug testing. Twenty-five million Americans smoked pot last year, and THC stays in the body for a relatively long time compared to other drugs—two factors that make marijuana the ideal target for the drug-test market. In fact, it’s fair to say that a widespread drug-test industry couldn’t remain in existence if marijuana weren’t outlawed.

So there’s good news and bad news. As always, a stoner needs to stay alert and know the facts—because despite the popular joke, you really can study for a drug test.