Michelle Teheux: Could a bagel land you in prison?
I’m re-thinking my poppy seed bagel habit.
I’m also concerned about the gin and tonics I like to drink on my deck during hot weather.
I am also considering throwing out the tube of hemp-seed hand lotion, no matter how great a job it does on my dry skin.
You see, I don’t want to go to prison for any of these things.
If you don’t use any illegal drugs you’d think you wouldn’t need to worry about any of this, but maybe you do.
We all know that if we are involved in a fatal collision they’ll do a tox screen, and if you test positive, you can go to prison. Several recent court cases have reminded us all that even if you smoked pot several days ago and are clearly not impaired, just the presence of the metabolites in your body is enough for you to be charged.
Since I don’t use marijuana or any other illegal drug, I wasn’t concerned for myself. But then, a co-worker mused, what about baked goods containing poppy seeds? Poppy seeds in bagels, muffins and cakes are a harmless delight, but they can give a false positive on drug tests. Did you shoot up heroin or did you eat a piece of poppy-seed cake? There’s no way to prove your only bad habit is eating too many bagels.
The quinine in tonic water also can cause you to test positive for heroin use.
And eating superfood hemp seeds? Please. Forget their nutritional advantages. Somebody might think you smoked pot if you eat this food, so just don’t.
Poppy seed cake is one of my staple specialties for company. It’s moist, rich and delicious. But imagine the consequences of enjoying a hefty slice of cake and then being involved in an accident. Even worse, what if I served you a gin and tonic after dinner? Even assuming the gin has all left your system, good luck explaining yourself in court as the quinine lingers.
The truth about the dangers of using hemp-seed toiletries is contested, with some sources saying that such products could never cause a false positive, and others saying it can happen. Best not to take a chance.
The chances of being involved in a fatal accident are pretty slim, but what about people applying for a job? Or what about people who are required to take drug tests to keep their jobs?
I have never been asked to take a drug test by any employer, and in general I’m philosophically opposed to the practice. If someone is really under the influence, you can tell. There is no need to resort to asking your people to pee in a cup.
Certain businesses tout the fact that they test their employees for drugs, thinking they are making a good impression on customers, but that strategy can backfire. It certainly doesn’t give me a good feeling about any business that advertises it feels it necessary to impose such a test on its employees. Are the employees empowered to insist their CEO provide a clean urine test upon command? No? Why not?
It’s not true that only people who use drugs can fail drug tests. It’s also not true that only drug users object to being made to take drug tests.
The possibility of people losing their jobs or their freedom based on imperfect drug testing just makes me mad. The fact that to avoid even the remote possibility of one of these things happening means giving up perfectly safe and normal things to eat and drink also upsets me.
Apparently we stopped believing in freedom in this country long ago.
Michelle Teheux may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the newspaper.