Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

A friend of mine lost his job before Christmas and thankfully has recently found a new job. He is fairly high on the chain of command, and I was rather surprised that even when you are a responsible adult family man with a good work history, you are generally required to take a drug test before being approved for employment.

That situation entered my mind when I began reading about the idea of drug testing welfare recipients. Just as my friend was drug tested before he could be gainfully employed, should welfare recipients be drug tested before they receive taxpayers’ money?

Townhall.com posted an Associated Press article yesterday about the move to drug test people who receive money from the government.

The article reports:

Data show that about 8 percent of the population uses drugs. And before a random drug testing program in Michigan was put on hold by a court challenge, about 8 percent of its public assistance applicants tested positive.

In years past such legal challenges had a chilling effect on state legislatures, but that seems to have thawed.

Michigan’s program was halted after five weeks in 1999, eventually ending with an appeals court ruling that it was unconstitutional.

For more than a decade, no other state moved to implement such a law.

Drug use is a problem. If people are drug tested to get a job, why shouldn’t they be drug tested to be paid money from the government?

The article states:

This year conservative lawmakers in 23 states from Wyoming to Mississippi _ where lawmakers want random screening to include nicotine tests _ are moving forward with proposals of their own.

Romney, in an interview this month in Georgia, supported the idea. “People who are receiving welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure they’re not using those benefits to pay for drugs,” Romney said to WXIA-TV in Atlanta.

Newt Gingrich addressed the topic with Yahoo News in November, saying he considered testing as a way to curb drug use and lower related costs to public programs.

Drug use can prevent people from being responsible and holding down a job. Why should we support the drug habit of someone who would rather stay home and do drugs than work? I object to the idea of testing for nicotine–cigarettes are still a legal product–but I think testing for illegal drugs is a good idea. If people who want¬†to be hired for a job need to be drug tested, why shouldn’t welfare recipients also be tested?

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