(AL.com) — Scott Dawson, one of five Republican candidates for Alabama governor, is pushing for mandatory drug testing at all public schools in Alabama.
His plan is to test all students who voluntarily participate in extracurricular activities, a method that has won past approval in federal court.
Dawson, a youth pastor and evangelist in Birmingham, said his proposal would be financially backed by the private sector, and would be able to withstand potential legal challenges.
"This is not to hurt people," said Dawson, one of four main candidates for GOP nomination for governor. The primary is June 5.
"It is because I'm tired of drug addiction holding a generation hostage," said Dawson. "Drug addiction doesn't know a gender, a race, a socioeconomic status. Every family that I speak to in a setting has got someone ravaged in their family by drug addiction and I'm tired with it. We have to do something about it."
Dawson said he understands the proposal would be costly - one expert with the American Academy of Pediatrics once pegged the costs of around $24 per student, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for some of Alabama's largest school districts.
But Dawson said his policy hinges on partnering with private or non-profit entities.
Said Dawson: "I've said, 'Do you not think there is a corporation or companies around our state or in our country that won't just line up and be partners with us as we try to eradicate drug addiction in our high schools?' I've talked to enough business owners who can't get enough employees to pass a drug test."