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States Consider Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients
Old 03-26-2009, 07:57 PM   #1
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States Consider Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

According to this AP story, more states are looking to implement drug testing as a condition of receiving food stamps, welfare payments, and even unemployment insurance payments.

Probably a sign of the times. As the demand for these payments outstrips available funds, states will look for a way to pare costs. On the bright side, it may get some folks into treatment a little sooner, and possibly help states identify some unhealthy home situations that would not have been recognized otherwise.
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:57 PM   #2
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I doubt this is to pare down costs. More like playing the politics of resentment. Most drugs don't show up in tests after a few days, except of course for pot. And they won't be testing for alcohol abuse or gambling. It won't stand up in court anway.

"Michigan passed a welfare drug testing law in 1999 that required all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applicants to provide urine samples to be considered eligible for assistance. But that program was shut down almost immediately by a restraining order. Three and a half years later, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier district court ruling that the blanket, suspicionless testing of recipients violated the Fourth Amendment's proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and was thus unconstitutional.
"This ruling should send a message to the rest of the nation that drug testing programs like these are neither an appropriate or effective use of a state's limited resources," said the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project head Graham Boyd at the time."
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:22 PM   #3
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Can those people who fail the drug test get a free rehab? Or they lose the welfare benefits and become homeless because they cannot stop the drugs by their sheer will? What happens to the children if those people have children?

How can this work??

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Old 03-27-2009, 12:32 AM   #4
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Hmmm, I just thought of a new business opportunity. Selling my urine at the unemployment line! All I'd have to do would be keep myself hydrated, I could probably knock out 4 or 5 tests/day. And I could hire some college kids to help, sort of outsourcing it. Assuming I could find any who could pass the tests.

Your questions are valid, and certainly haven't been considered seriously by those proposing the legislation. It will be interesting to watch this process. I still think the courts will slap it down if it gets that far.
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Old 03-27-2009, 12:36 AM   #5
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All I'd have to do would be keep myself hydrated
Or not drink any water at all all day... It would be more concentrated and portable for shipping etc....
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:59 AM   #6
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And they won't be testing for alcohol abuse or gambling. It won't stand up in court anway.
Or for television use... which has the same potential for mind-numbing abuse. Not to mention the mind-altering aspect.
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:27 AM   #7
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I don't think it is legal. If you take government money; it doesn't mean you can be forced to give up your right against self incrimination. (This is not a work place issue.)
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:57 AM   #8
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I don't think it is legal. If you take government money; it doesn't mean you can be forced to give up your right against self incrimination. (This is not a work place issue.)
I'm not sure self-incrimination is the issue. If the state simply denies benefits (but does not prosecute) for those who test positive, there's no self-incrimination issue. Those who get into rehab and stick with it or who otherwise get clean can get the aid.

I'm not defending the program in its entirety, but I do think those applying to receive state/federal money (which is not a right) can be required to meet tests to receive that money.

My biggest concern is for the kids of folks who have a serious drug problem. I don't know if this proposed program helps or hurts in these cases.
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Old 03-27-2009, 11:12 AM   #9
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We really need to make efforts to decrease drug use. Yes, it won't address all dependencies but don't let the imperfection stop attempts to deal with it. I prefer that route to incarceration. I don't get excited by marijuana use in moderation but if you are receiving financial assistance sacrifices are appropriate.

It is my understanding that addicts deep in their illness won't participate. Casual users likely will.
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Old 03-27-2009, 11:36 AM   #10
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I prefer not to have tax dollars spent on illegal drugs...but hey, that's just me.
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Old 03-27-2009, 11:38 AM   #11
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I prefer not to have tax dollars spent on illegal drugs...but hey, that's just me.

But what about their rights to take drugs.. Shouldn't us taxpayers help do that!
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Old 03-27-2009, 01:47 PM   #12
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I'm not sure self-incrimination is the issue. If the state simply denies benefits (but does not prosecute) for those who test positive, there's no self-incrimination issue. Those who get into rehab and stick with it or who otherwise get clean can get the aid.
I think the ACLU might say drug testing, then denying benefits if positive of illegal drug is self incrimination and punishment without a trial.
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Old 03-27-2009, 02:07 PM   #13
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I think if these programs also include funding for treatment and rehab as the criterion for continued eligibility instead of cutting them off cold turkey, I think it's a good idea.

I think in terms of scarlet letters and punitive governmental, employment and law enforcement actions toward users, we've already done too much to discourage people from getting clean and sober. I think we need to reverse that trend to the point where getting help and successfully being rehabbed isn't the future-killer it can be today. It's better to hide it and secretly function than seek help and be outed as unemployable as things are today, and that's a shame.
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:12 PM   #14
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My biggest concern is for the kids of folks who have a serious drug problem. I don't know if this proposed program helps or hurts in these cases.
This is a serious concern, but I doubt taking away the kids benefits will be helpful. And I seriously doubt the governments' ability to deal with the results of the testing with either compassion or intelligence. JMO.

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I prefer not to have tax dollars spent on illegal drugs...but hey, that's just me.
I agree. Legalize it!
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:34 PM   #15
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I agree. Legalize it!
and, I suppose, "ladies of the night"?
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:07 PM   #16
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and, I suppose, "ladies of the night"?
Why not?
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:36 PM   #17
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:47 PM   #18
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I agree. Legalize it!
Somehow I suspect we went to the same kinda parties back in the day
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:45 PM   #19
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Somehow I suspect we went to the same kinda parties back in the day
We may have been at the same parties. I can't remember.
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Old 03-28-2009, 09:27 PM   #20
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To be honest... I am not sure that I care if someone wants to waste their life, gambling, doing drugs, drinking themselves into oblivion etc. The only problem that I have, is them using my dime (via taxes) to do it.

What I would do (I believe we have the tech at this point) is to issue welfare recipents some sort of electronic card that can only be used in certain stores, to buy only certain products. As in "Sorry Mr. Smith... but your welfare card will not purchase alcohol in our store." Remember, being on welfare is not about being made "comfortable" and having things be convienient for you.

Every week that card can be re-filled at the local welfare office only by the legal holder of it, and yes ID would be required. Good luck trying to buy booze or lottery tickets with that....
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