This reminds me of the parallel system used by "health insurance companies". If you have some minor issue you later don't disclose on an application form, then if you do later become ill with something expensive to treat like cancer, your records are searched (held by private companies who collect this information), and your policy undergoes rescission, a form of legal annulment. A couple years ago I had some heart pains and got an EKG. It was nothing and proved to be indigestion after eating too many onions. I discussed it with the doctor and he agreed to take cash for that one and make no record of it with my name due to the risk of later being denied health care should I ever actually have heart disease for not reporting a possible preexisting condition.
Of course all this is only possible because of the work we engineers do for the powers that exist for profit and work the angles to make sure their systems don't provide health care and deny honest people the ability to work for law enforcement.
I spent some time in the US as an intern at a large corporation and part of the admission procedure (on the day of arrival) was a drug test. My contract clearly stated that my employment was contingent on a negative outcome of that drug test.
I happen to be from The Netherlands, a country where as an adult I am allowed to smoke weed should I choose to (even though I don't). Apart from the legality of this, would they really have sent me back for doing something that is legal in my country?
The test would actually have detected any weed consumed up to 6 weeks in advance if I remember correctly. I got the notice perhaps 4 weeks before the test, so if I would have been a regular smoker, it would have been a quite likely outcome.
Can you really be held accountable for doing nothing wrong?
It's very culturally accepted in most of Europe that you smoke weed or have at least at some point in your life. If you claim to have gotten through high school and college without at least trying weed ... I don't think anyone will take you seriously. Even less so if it happens to be true.
Why are americans like this when it comes to drugs? I don't know, and I think most noncorporate types aren't like that in the US either.
As for being held accountable for doing nothing wrong ... would you hire somebody who drinks half a bottle of vodka a day? They're doing nothing wrong mind you.
Interestingly, I know a lot of people in The Netherlands who have not and will never smoke weed, whereas in the USA I had the feeling that nearly everyone (especially the college crowd) was a stoner. If I were to give my non-expert experience, I would guess that about 50% of the people I met in the USA had ever smoked weed, compared to 25-30% in the NL.
> As for being held accountable for doing nothing wrong ... would you hire somebody who drinks half a bottle of vodka a day? They're doing nothing wrong mind you.
Someone who drinks half a bottle of wodka a day is doing something wrong. They are alcoholic and probably not able to function in any job, let alone a job that expects someone to behave responsibly. Wrong <> illegal.
It's actually roughly 85% of people in the US smoke weed at some point in their lives, as you can see here on p. 103:
(You need to adjust upwards a couple of points to account for those who don't make it to 11th grade, who are assumed to use drugs at 50% higher rates, and also to account for a couple other factors that are discussed in the methodology.)
Not my family, not most of my friends.
Edit: For my circle the estimate is totally wrong, beyond inaccurate. I doubt I'm in the minority.
PS: 15% of the population is a lot of people, you would expect to find large clumps of people that don't smoke.
Your last line seems to imply that you doubt the results of the study, but that's a bit ridiculous to do based on personal anecdote.
I'm not doubting the study, I can't grasp the outcome.
One question for you - which do you think causes more health and addiction problems for people in the US ? Cannabis ? Or alcohol and prescription medications ?
I have often enough drunken half that, 1/4 bottle a booze, three double-shot drinks over the course of an evening 4-6 hours. It's definitely not enough to be drunk at that rate or even tipsy. I function just fine. Double that I would be rather tipsy and not enjoy it. But I have known people that polish off a half and even a whole fifth in a single evening. I suppose those are the drunks. They usually function perfectly fine at work and are often top contributors.
I've never smoked pot myself but I know plenty who do and a lot of them are really fine developers, even though they get completely wasted every single evening.
The people that seem to be negatively affected in work are the amphetamine and narcotic users, both of which are often legally prescribed to them for ADHD or back pain. Those folks can get a bit edgy.
As far as flashbacks, I did know one LSD user who had them. But this guy had been very irresponsible and done several dozen hits one day which landed him in an insane asylum for over a year, after which he remembered nothing. He was definitely messed up. Casual users I know of hallucinogens have told me they've never had a flashback. I have noticed though that long term casual users tend to become more and more flaky so I would consider that a negative in a job interview, except that I don't ask such questions of people in that situation. I am skeptical of the claim the authorities made that the person in the referenced article is genuinely at risk of flashbacks because of a single incident of mushroom use years ago.
Having said that, if you manage to drink this much without anyone noticing in your professional performance, I don't see why that should be a reason to not employ you or fire you (although it is hard to say that in advance). The same goes for cannabis, which has a much less severe impact on your ability to function in society. In The Netherlands, Alcohol is actually considered to be a "hard drug", whereas cannabis is a "soft drug".
Regarding flashbacks, I did read of adverse effects of LSD years after using. I have never heard about the same applying to mushrooms (a completely different chemical).
I'll admit, I'm old and my learning (through bartender's school, no less) reflects that. Most shot glasses will hold a jigger, but you don't fill it for a shot. Further down the page you linked, under "jigger," shows a tool we use(d). A "shot" was a drink, the "measure" was a jigger (1.5 oz) or a shot (1.0 oz). In programming terms, the word "shot" was overloaded.
Weird I've thought a shot was an ounce all these years.
I'd kinda second this. But I'd go so far to say that my experience in the US, a lot of the pot smoking happens in high school, and college was more of a drinking/party experience, I'd say most of my college friends never smoked weed in college. (yeah, we all tried weed in high school, but college was for drinking, chasing girls, and studying hard...) Yeah, we were all engineers.
And now in the "real world" the majority of my co-workers never smoked weed. You could say they're lying, but I'd guess because of my sample pool, it's more selection bias/demographics than anything.
I live in Scotland currently and went to university. I haven't done weed and neither have, as far as I know, around 50% of my friends.
But even when you consider that perhaps "only" 50% of your peers have ever tried weed ... what does it say about an employer (or anyone) who readily dismisses half of the population like that?
1/2 of 0.5L 40% alc. vodka = 100gr of ethanol
~20 grams of ethanol per 330ml bottle of beer.
or ~1 750ml bottle of wine.
It's comparable to donating blood. If you had Malaria once, you cannot donate blood anymore (at least in Germany). But getting Malaria is not illegal :)
So...I don't know...police in California may think honesty is less than useful, but I would be careful about painting all law enforcement, military and intel agencies with too broad a brush.
The only thing one can reasonably conclude from your experience, is that there is a chance that certain California police forces could be corrupt. Which, frankly, comes as little surprise to people outside of California. Though I can understand the consternation it may cause to people in California.
Saying you didn't do drugs when you did. Etc, etc.
“You give us the papers we want. We give you the papers you want.”
“Just make the form look the way you know we want it to look, and we'll give you the resulting documents you want.”
But in the human world deadlocks don't happen, at least not for as long as you think. They resolve - sometimes peacefully, sometimes fitfully, but they resolve. The vast majority resolve so quickly that you barely notice they happened, because once a person has tried a particular deadlock-resolution strategy once or twice, and nothing has blown up as a result, they make a habit of that strategy and get really good at it. Eventually the strategy might even get institutionalized; it becomes part of the on-the-job training that everybody gets but that nobody ever talks about or writes down.
(And, sometimes, eventually something does blow up. But the proximate cause of that explosion won't look like a deadlock. If you investigate it, however, you may find that the root cause was a deadlock, one that got resolved in an unhappy way. So maybe it's wrong to say that the risk of deadlock is less than it appears; instead, we say that deadlocks are very risky, but the risk is not that the system will halt, but rather that it will grind forward in the wrong way.)
There are rules that are on the books that everyone pledges to follow, but that nobody actually follows. There are forms that everyone knows must be filled out a certain way, regardless of the surrounding circumstances. There are signatures that are consistently signed by underlings, but almost never by the person whose name is being signed. There are shortcuts that, if the engineers knew about them, would be cause for suspicion, but they make the job go faster, and the engineers don't know about them, perhaps because whenever they see one in progress they cover their eyes and mutter "oh, wow, I didn't see that", so let me just show you this trick very quietly, and please don't talk too loudly about it.
And obviously this can become pathological - I'm heard that, in particularly corrupt societies, bureaucrats can make a living by explicitly and openly manufacturing deadlocks which they will resolve for you for a fee, and everyone understands this and just travels around with a stack of bills - but it's also the essential lubricant that makes bureaucracy work at all. I'm not sure we have any evidence that, say, an enterprise on the scale of a corporation can work without such quintessentially human intervention.
Erowid explains it here, I think in part 2 of the article:
Also one of my friends was rejected, because he was honest and said he smoked weed more than their arbitrary limit of 10 times in the past.
On the other hand, I did have a friend who was told by his recruiter to be "honest." My friend didn't pick up on the recruiter's sarcasm so he told the entire truth about his past adventures with narcotics. He even told them that he has acid flashbacks a few times a year.
They still let my friend enlist(Hell, we were in the middle of a war), but it took him nearly all of his 4 year enlistment to get the Top Secret clearance he required to do his job. All of our supervisors acted like he was an idiot for actually telling the truth.
So let's say you've shown that 'Honest People Might Be Dangerous'. How about a few anecdotes where a trivial lie led to a disaster? There, I've proven that 'Dishonest People Might Be Dangerous' too. What does this add up to? The ever-insightful 'People Might Be Dangerous' lemma. Now, given a choice between the 'Honest' and 'Not-entirely-honest' model of human, which one would you choose to work with?
The title "Honest People Might Be Dangerous" is sarcastic and tongue in cheek. He did not argue that they are actually dangerous.
In any case, the article says nothing to imply that the author's past marijuana use was the problem. The issue was with hallucinogens and I would assume that most people can honestly say they've never taken any.
1. Some people haven't ever used drugs. These people can safely answer honestly.
2. Some people have experimented with drugs in the past, but were never heavy users. These people may naively assume that your screening criteria align with modern societal norms that smoking pot in college is forgivable, but you shouldn't continue to use drugs once you move into the real world. These people will answer honestly and be excluded.
3. Some people may be current users, or former heavy users, and expect that they would not be hired if they answer honestly. Given that they are already active criminals (drug users) they may be more likely to lie.
Net result is that you exclude only 2, and your workforce is populated only by 1 and 3. I think most people, even those who created these policies, would prefer a workplace populated by groups 1 and 2.
The people that created the policies... sure. Most people? Why? I have no problem with current drug users. Silicon Valley is chock full of semi-regular to regular pot smokers. And who knows how many take a few hits of ecstasy or mushrooms at their annual Burning Man or Coachella outings. You really see this as an issue? To be honest, I actively prefer to work with these people. You wouldn't have hired Carl Sagan?
As long as it's not affecting the quality of their work, why do you even care?
I get the liability issue, even if I think it's dumb, but I honestly don't think occasional drug use should have any bearing on even emergency service jobs. Yes, I am ok with my potential ER surgeon smoking a spliff to relax after a long stressful day.
If we as a society were more open and accepting of this, responsible users wouldn't feel the need to lie and we wouldn't have this problem.
Not legal advice or anything but lying to protect one's own ass is a very special case of lying and gets much more protection than plain vanilla lying.
You're screwed if you lie.
You're screwed if you tell the truth.
You're also screwed if you choose to remain silent, as that's used against you.
The only safe answer is "I cannot discuss that until I discuss it with counsel.
That will catch up to you.
You know there's some psychiatrist in Isreal who has diagnosed thousands of cases of "post hallucinogen perceptual disorder", probably because PHPD disqualifies a person from service in the Isreal armed forces.
For what it's worth it's also in the DSM.
The moral of the story: many questions are asked to see if you know the right answer, not because they actually want to know the answer to the question.
Turns out, I'm right.
So hopefully if the context is very close to the unmentionable remark, federal agents are not dispatched.
Honesty is for yourself, and not for other people. In my opinion, it was right that you said the truth, and that you failed. You should argue that you shouldn't have failed, not that you dont need to tell the truth.
IMHO, and probably the contrarian view. But the contrarian view is of value because it makes you think. Please think of that before you downvote/upvote the comment.
Some companies give "honesty-integrity assessments" to predict whether candidates may steal from the company, sexually harass employees, etc. How do they predict whether someone would do that?
They simply ask.
People who steal gratuitously will often rationalize the behavior by convincing themselves that "everyone steals something." When they see the questions, they'll think that, if they mark that they would never steal anything, they'll be flagged as a liar. And then they're caught.
The drug questionnaire presumably acts under similar principles. The people who mark "Hallucinogens -- once in my life" tend to be the people who pop a pill every week.
Now, you can argue till you are blue in the face that you will simply get more dishonest members, and this greatly outweighs the benefits of throwing out a few occasional users. But, ultimately speaking, these admission conditions are designed by committees, and there's always someone on the committee who doesn't want stoners at any cost.
At least not in a public place or where it will go on record. Even if its your fault, you regret what happened and want to make amends. Even in that case its better to push off all blame and then go ahead and make amends.
This goes for everything from car insurance to dealing with any government body to dealing with corporate workplace issues to dealing with Americans in general.
Recently I was struck by this thought when Rex Ryan took the blame for the JETS awful season and in doing so a lot of sports writers questioned whether that was wise because it could mean that another losing season would mean the end of his tenure. A lot of writers mentioned casting the blame on others was a better action for the coach to have followed. Or even to have said nothing at all.
I'm not comfortable being incongruent (ie having a mismatch between my inner state and outer communication).
Even a relatively small amount of incongruence (ie minor sucking-up to unworthy bosses, things of that nature) causes me to become cynical and jaded.
I think this is a good thing AND a bad thing. Good thing because people know that I am less likely to be a fake-fuck and just nod along with their bullshit, bad thing because sometimes life requires some machiavellianism and/or smarminess.
Solutions for this dilemma?
PS. Sebastian Marshall is my new favorite blogger these past couple of months. I love his style. I would recommend everyone get his book: http://www.amazon.com/Ikigai-ebook/dp/B006M9T8NI (full disclosure: I want to gain some brownie-points from Mr Marshall).
Lots of polygraphs forms, etc. Detailed political interviews. Anyways, they get to this really thick form and the female CSIS interviewer says "please provide me a rough explanation of your history with illegal drugs," buddy says "Never. Not once." "Never?" "Never." One check box checked on the form the rest left unfilled.
Oh and my buddy was being truthful, but if you have to lie do it like that. "Never. Not once."
I doubt they disqualify ex military members because of the potential for flashbacks.
They need to be able to explain how they can identify the smell if asked in court, even if they've smoked it before.
So there's that.
Having had a flashback once -- 30 years ago, I hasten to add, for benefit of my future employer who has dug up this comment :-) -- I think it was endogenous.
I'm not saying the article is hypocritical, I'm observing the greater issue here. Sad, but true.
Why even bother asking if someone's ever done drugs? The chances are they will not be telling the truth anyhow, so you may as well rely on gut instinct and make the assumption everyone is lying all the time.
Sadly, today in every walk of life, its just a matter of making the "right" noises at the appropriate time to the right people. And that's not good. For anyone.
Tell the truth, shame the devil, take the consequences, one time. It often works out better than you might think.
I would say I pity him, but it's hard to feel sorry for someone who publicly ridicules his colleagues by repeatedly calling them all "fucking jokers" in a 10,000 word rant on his blog.
Downvote this if you're stupid enough to take advice from a tactless wannabe with the business sense of a doorknob.
I happened to have read a bunch of his articles(shirtless video, joker, pro-win). I disliked all of them. I read this one - this is just an anecdote about bureaucratic dance, with a cheesy title.
I can make my mind about something based on its objective measure, and your vile comment is totally unnecessary.
There are interesting stories on Hacker News, but I have to force myself not to get drawn into reading any of the comments. They make me lose faith in humanity.
...let the lambasting begin.
Please, including stuff lke that is pretty much just asking to be downvoted.