Screening Room


Yesterday the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published its new drug testing guidelines, which take effect in six months, following a three-month comment period. SAMHSA's rules, which apply to federal employees and workers in regulated industries, are also widely followed by private employers. As expected, the new guidelines allow the use of saliva, sweat, and hair testing in addition to urinalysis. NORML's Allen St. Pierre notes (and SAMSHA concedes) that the new methods have drawbacks: Environmental contamination can compromise saliva and hair testing, for example, and the latter method is also affected by hair color. But the biggest disadvantage of hair testing may be its long window of detection (several months), which further widens the gap between drug test results and job performance.