No, welfare recipients should not be drug tested

It’s an election year, so I guess that it makes sense that right-wing nonsense is going viral:

Shouldn’t you have to pass a urine test to collect a welfare check,
since I have to pass one to earn it for you?”

My answer to the question? No.

To begin with, is there any evidence whatsoever that welfare recipients use drugs more than those who aren’t on welfare? Seriously, where are the studies or statistics or facts? Unfortunately, racial and classist stereotypes pervade common misconceptions about social insurance programs, even if most welfare recipients are white and have at least one job. In fact, the National Institute of Health released a study that demonstrates no value of statistical significance to suggest that drug use among those who are receive welfare payments and those who do not are much different.
In fact, many experts explicitly advise against this this type of drug testing:
  • American Public Health Association
  • National Association of Social Workers, Inc.
  • National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
  • Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
  • National Health Law Project
  • National Association on Alcohol
  • Drugs and Disability, Inc.
  • National Advocates for Pregnant Women
  • National Black Women’s Health Project
  • Legal Action Center
  • National Welfare Rights Union
  • Youth Law Center
  • Juvenile Law Center
  • National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
The idea, right-wing advocates argue, is that people who receive government aid should not wasting it on illegal drugs. Of course, failing a drug test does not necessarily mean that the user actually paid for the drugs. For example, a common practice within the cannabis-smoking community is to smoke someone up or, as UrbanDictionary puts it, “to share your weed with someone and get them high for free.”
Some go further to argue that someone who breaks the law should not receive government aid. Does someone who went slightly above the speed limit deserve to have their assistance cut off? What about getting a parking ticket? What about people who are arrested for utilizing their First Amendment rights?
Some argue that states will save large amounts of money drug testing welfare recipients. The state of Florida recently implemented a similar policy. What happened with it? Well, it found that a lower percentage of welfare recipients use drugs than the general population. And, it ended up costing the state significantly more than it actually saved.
In fact, blanket testing welfare recipients is a blatant violation of the Forth Amendment right to privacy. In all cases – except for ones where safety is concerned – are unconstitutional. While private businesses do not apply to this, I would personally love to see them banned from drug testing their employees, except in cases pertaining to safety.
Feel free to post this link on the wall of any Facebook friend who shares the atrocious image at the top of this post.