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Drug Testing Policies

    Drug testing policies can also be established through administrative orders issued by the president, by governors, by mayors, or by other officials. For example, President Richard Nixon issued an execu­tive order in 1971 that required random drug testing of military personnel. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan extended that order, requiring mandatory testing of all military personnel.

    Probably the most important administrative ruling about drug testing is Executive Order 12564, issued by President Reagan in September 1986. This order requires the head of each federal agency to establish a voluntary employee drug testing program as well as a mandatory testing program for employees involved with law enforcement, national security, public health and safety, or the protection of life and property. The order also authorizes mandatory testing in three circumstances:

  1. when there is reasonable cause for suspicion that an employee has been using illegal drugs,

  2. as part of an investigation following an accident or the discovery of an unsafe practice, and

  3. as part of a counseling or rehabilitation program for illegal drug users.

Two months later the Federal Personnel Manual Letter 792-16 was issued. This letter described in more detail the conditions under which drug testing could and should take place, how tests should be performed, and what would happen to individuals testing positive on drug tests.

    Some states, on the other hand, have passed laws to protect their citizens from unreasonable drug test­ing. For example, Montana, Iowa, Vermont, and Rhode Island have passed laws banning all random drug tests (that is, tests conducted without probable cause or reasonable suspicion). In addition, Minnesota, Maine, and Connecticut have passed laws permitting random testing only of employees in certain "safety-sensitive" positions, such as transportation workers.

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