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The Hill — IVÁN ESPINOZA-MADRIGAL AND LARRY WILLIS: Hair drug testing is not accurate, we shouldn’t rely on it

Imagine being denied work — not because of your qualifications or work history, but because a drug test required for employment comes back positive for a drug you never used. Now imagine learning that the test result could have been influenced by the color and texture of your hair.

Sadly, this isn’t a plot for a sci-fi movie. Over the past two decades, several Boston Police officers have been terminated or denied employment because of false positives on department-required hair drug tests.

In 2013, the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission reinstated six of those officers after determining that the hair testing method used was unreliable. In 2014 a panel of federal judges determined that this hair testing method had a discriminatory impact on African Americans.

Hair tests can lead to false positive results because certain drugs — like cocaine — which are found on common surfaces, including dollar bills, can be absorbed into hair. There is currently no way to fully cleanse hair of these drugs.

Read more on The Hill.

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