Drug testing for welfare is a waste of money

Von Lanier

Since 2015 multiple states around the nation like Michigan, Missouri, Florida and Georgia have all wasted millions of dollars on drug-testing welfare recipients.

The latest state, West Virginia, has voted in favor of a bill to implement a three-year statewide drug testing pilot program. The bill was unanimously approved by legislators from both the House and the Senate and is now headed to the governor for the final signature.

While members of the working class hate to think anyone is reaping the benefit of our hard-earned tax dollars without really needing it, we have to be mindful of who we’re pointing the finger at and calling lazy.

Proponents of the bill to drug test people who get welfare make claims that it would save money by getting drug users off assistance, thus reducing spending on government benefits. But as time has told, that’s not true.

A recent study by Think Progress shows that in a lot of the states that’ve passed the bill, welfare applicants actually test positive at a lower rate of drug use than that of the general population.

This means a lot of these places are shoveling out loads of cash just to catch 1 in 7 people who may be using drugs. It’s just stupid. How does spending more federal money to catch just a couple of people sound like a good idea?

The national drug use rate is nearly 10 percent, but results of the study show  the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent.

With this in mind, at least 13 states require some form of drug testing for welfare recipients, and others are looking to take the plunge. There are 19 more states currently considering this type of legislation.

Millions of dollars have already been spent just to catch a handful of people, and at this rate,  millions more will be spent and it won’t really prove anything in the end.

A lot of states claim the money for drug tests does not come from the same funds that go toward providing benefits to people of lower income, but it doesn’t matter where the money is coming from if it’s being wasted anyway.

The stigma around people who get welfare is already bad enough without the government implying that you have to be smoking crack in order to need assistance. It would only serve to make some
people ashamed of their situation and discourage even more from applying for assistance that they may actually need.

Even if these policies were to disclose potential drug users, it’s unsure how their drug usage will be treated other than them losing the benefits. Even if they might truly need help for their drug problem, there’s no guarantee they’ll get that over criminal charges.

We also have to consider hungry children who may end up being the real victims if their parents lose the assistance.

If someone were to be terminated from their welfare benefits because of using drugs then that person should be provided some form of counseling and helped to find a job immediately rather than be cut off with no thought given to the precariousness of the situation.

The grounds for a welfare recipient to be tested for drugs, is reasonable suspicion. First, they must take a written examination, and if their written response raises suspicion that they’re using drugs, then they must submit to and pass a urine test.

Applicants who fail the urine test can either enter a treatment program or they become ineligible to receive their benefits. After treatment, they must pass another urine test or they would face welfare ineligibility for an amount of time to be determined by the state.

Many will agree that these are reasonable accommodations people should be able to make for free stuff.

However, it’s a complete waste of time and resources to test the entire 21 percent of the American populace that receives some form of welfare for drugs.