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Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients: Pros and Cons

According to CNN and a number of other news sources, Florida officials once took quick strides toward implementing a new program that would require potential recipients of cash aid and welfare to undergo drug testing when they apply. Some think this idea is great. Others are offended by the implications; therefore, it’s important to take a look at both the pros and cons.

Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients: The Pros

The way proponents of the new drug testing initiative saw it—and that includes the lawmakers who were signing it into policy—it’s not fair to ask taxpayers to pay for the drug addiction of those who are receiving welfare if they are, in fact, using those funds to buy heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, etc. Although most would consent that not all beneficiaries of government assistance are using illegal drugs, because some may, they believe all should be tested.

Drug deal going downFlorida’s Governor Rick Scott signed the legislation that would make it mandatory for adults who were applying for aid to undergo drug testing as part of the application process.

Said Scott: “It’s the right thing for taxpayers. It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.”[1]

Two years later, the law was permanently blocked from being enforced in Florida.[2] However, currently there is proposed legislation reintroducing a similar idea but with a narrower focus, which would require testing only of those formerly convicted of drug crimes.[3]

Do These Pro-Drug Testing Arguments Stand Up?

The incentive not to use drugs is a positive aspect to the new legislation. If knowing that your cash aid depended upon your ability to produce a clean sample and pass a drug test could help you to stay clean, then it’s likely for you to be motivated to stop your drug use.

You would, theoretically, be able to spend your time going to school or looking for a better job that pays more than welfare and so more quickly reduce your need for state assistance.

Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients: The Cons

Some who would have to undergo the drug testing are offended by the implication that simply because you are having financial problems you also have a drug addiction. They say that the stigma against those who receive funds from the government is bad enough without making it worse with mandatory drug testing. Others say that it may stop people from seeking aid who need it to properly care for their children.

Do These Anti-Drug Testing Arguments Stand Up?

The only problem with these arguments is that, if welfare recipients aren’t abusing drugs, then the drug testing will actually serve to remove some of the stigma of implied drug addiction that many assume even without drug testing. Additionally, it should be pointed out that most jobs also require random and mandatory drug testing done sporadically throughout employment—not just at the time of application. This is actually far more lenient than others endure making the same amount at local retail store working part-time.

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion on mandatory drug testing for welfare recipient applicants. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, we can help. Please call us at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline, 760.548.4032. We can connect you to the best treatment programs available and answer any question you may have. Please call now.