Drug testing for Welfare recipients: Good or bad?

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Bill in Dayton

Florida has received the first results of their drug testing for welfare recipients. From an initial batch of about one thousand tests, only 2% came back positive. The costs of each test is roughly $30.00 and Florida has between 1000 and 1500 new applicants a month for welfare benefits. Which means the State of Florida spent almost forty thousand dollars to test people who came up negative. The results were a bit surprising, I imagine, for some.

According to studies, the general public has a drug use rate of between 6.5% and 8.5%, so the 2% positive test results is well below that of the public, not higher.

The idea is simple. No taxpayer wants to see their hard earned tax dollars pay for someone on welfare to buy drugs with. That's perfectly sensible. I agree with that sentiment. I'm guessing you do as well. The devil, as they say, is in the details. With 4th Amendment issues regarding unreasonable search and seizures, this was bound to be a slippery slope from the start. The US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against...

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Bill in Dayton



Bush_Wacker's picture
I'm all for it as long as

I'm all for it as long as they test everyone who receives government money.  That includes anyone who receives credits on their tax returns, tax holiday recipients, pell grant recipients, government subsidies which would include all of the oil companies and their employees not to mention the thousands of other businesses subsidized by the government and the thousands of businesses that receive grants.  Let's not forget anyone who has a government subsidized mortgage, which is most everybody.  Etc.

Phaedrus76's picture
And all the people who work

And all the people who work in welfare saved banks.

nvm you got it Bush Wacker. 

nvm you got it Bush Wacker.  Well done.

kevin baggese
kevin baggese's picture
i don't feel drug testing

i don't feel drug testing should be a mandatory exercise for employment unless the job involves heavy equipment operation,truck/bus drivers,and law enforcement or fireman.basically any job where there is any physical or mechanical actions that are considered as dangerous or life threatening under the best of circumstances.as an office worker i cant tell you how many times i saw salesman or junior executives come back from lunch half in the bag after a few cock tales.the people that i knew who smoked grass only smoked grass after working hours when at home.in my experience the cocktale drinkers had a noticeable drop in performance after lunch most would also leave the office early.on the other hand the after working hours pot smokers kept a higher level of performance.throughout the day.of course i am not advocating somebody with an active heroin habit just getting a pass.not at all.but i am concerned with the pass that boozers get versus pot smokers.the drug war is a failure anyways and costing the nation billions of dollars a year.lets legalize pot and start pulling in some tax revenue from the regulated sales.

doh1304's picture
Blacks. Jews. Catholics.

Blacks. Jews. Catholics. Gays. "Drug" Users. Hippies. Commies. Sneeches With Stars. Women. Fat People. Intillectuals. Southerners. Farmers. Bikers. Skateboarders. College Students. Asians. Mexicans.

I could crash Thom's seerver trying to complete this list. Get the point?

douglaslee's picture
The FL governor's wife owns

The FL governor's wife owns the testing clinic. Republican welfare is different, it puts real americans to work.

The standard tests also the cheapest, test for opiates, crack/cocaine, pcp,  marijuana, and amphetamines. Barbiturates and benzodiazepams are ok. The control factor in help already prevents some spending on sin. Foodstamps cannot buy alcohol, section 8 housing is rent reduction only.

The whole thing is a ruse to assist cronies with state money.

Entrepeneurs might want to work out a urine exchange system.

Those testing ought to do split samples, then contact aclu for hair stem analysis if one still gets a false positive. When negative comes back [finally] the state pays for all corrective neccessities, and retroactive benefits. Scott wants the positives to increase, so some fraud is coming.

scriber1's picture
The whole idea of testing

The whole idea of testing people just because they are dependent and need help is debasing, insulting and immoral.  People on drugs need even more help, because they are on drugs. 

Recovering cons...
Recovering conservative2's picture
  I think folks are missing


I think folks are missing the point. So far the positives are less than 2 % while the national average is higher which is 4 times higher. So, it less of problem for these folks than others, the question who are the folks making up for their lack of use? Is it the Bankers? Is this why they are making the bad decisions?

"According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, performed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 8.7 percent of the population nationally over age 12 uses illicit drugs. The rate was 6.3 percent for those ages 26 and up.

A 2008 study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy also showed that 8.13 percent of Floridians age 12 and up use illegal drugs."

See the article from the Tampa paper



In the current economic conditions, we need to think of ourselves on a sinking boat and we need to help everyone to the lifeboats and just not the first class passengers. We can survive this but we need to decide if this is going to be the Titanic or 'Pendleton (where all but one person was saved) (http://www.cg36500.org/history_pendleton_rescue.html). It is our choice to work together and everyone do what we can like the crew of 36500 or we can be the Titanic

Bill in Dayton
It'll be interesting to see

It'll be interesting to see if that 2% number stays constant as we gain more data. Right now, the sample size is prety small given the scope of the testing. 

Kerry's picture
Actually, I think that

Actually, I think that douglaslee is right.  Drug testing is a farce.  Alcohol is the number one drug agent to endorse violence of all types, increase carwrecks, and increase work-related absences and accidents--and it's not even tested because 'it's legal'.  And, you don't think that people who want to do drugs already know how to get around the testing?  All a heroin addict needs is a prescription for Tylenol #3--all that shows up on the tests is 'opiates'--it doesn't tell you which opiate.  So, the heroin addict could be shooting up every day but, as long as he has that narcotic prescription, that is a negative test (because 'it's legal').  Most drugs aren't detected in drug tests after about three days--so, if a drug user knows the test is coming, just stay off the drug long enough to be negative.   The only drug that stays in the system for any substantial period of time after use is the THC in marijuana.  Like the people of India shows (where marijuana got started--and 'is legal'--in some of the most crowded conditions in the world), dopers are less violent than most other drug users.

Does any of these tests (of 2% positive) give any breakdown on what drugs are positive in these tests.  I bet a substantial number of them are THC and marijuana?   Really now.   You would rather have people in crowded and squalid conditions on alcohol, methamphetamines, or cocaine, than you would marijuana?   Again, look at India....

This whole premise is a farce.   Let's say that the program is a flaming success and it gets every drug user 'off the public dole'.  Where do they go now?  Well, if they're that big a drug user, they'll go into the underground drug business to make a living.  Which vamps up the need for more of that great 'law enforcement' to contain (and they won't be able to do that, either)--that will save a lot of money.  Put them in jail--that costs the taxpayer less.  Right.....bullshit...

I bet each cirrhotic alcoholic costs the system more money (due to more medical complications) than does the biggest doper in the nation....but, those alcoholics can still get 'government money'....

scriber1's picture
My point is they shouldn't be

My point is they shouldn't be testing poor people.  The point they (Florada) are trying to make is that people needing public assistance are poor because they are no good drug users who don't deserve any help. They have an agenda and it is leading to discrimination.  I am just glad that the results proved them wrong.  But the actual point is that drug testing of the poor shouldn't be done.  No matter whether the results are 2% or 15%.  They are American citizens like anyone else.  Just because you are poor doesn't mean you are a drug user.  You are just poor.  Either you have hit a rough patch in your life or life hasn't been so good in the first place.  Have we drug tested the banksters who crashed the economy?  How about when they were bailed out?  They were receiving public assistance then and a huge amount.  Testing the poor who need public assistance and not testing the banksters who needed public assistance is buying into the current conservative thesis that the poor are poor because they did something wrong and are being punished by God and the rich are above reproach and are demi-gods.  It is immoral and wrong to test the poor as a basis of receiving assistance.

Randy95023's picture
Are we still in

Are we still in "America"?

Without Probable Cause no one, including employers has any right to search for evidence of wrong doing.  The 4th Amendment is QUITE clear on the topic.  Almost all jobs now require a "pre-employment" drug test.  This may be legal (according to the courts) but it goes against everything America stands for.  I haven't smoked weed since I got married in 1979 and use no illegal drugs.  I don't even drink, having quit 2 years ago.  My point is that it is no one's business to search a person's home, vehicle or belongings without "Probable Cause" of criminal activity.  A person's body is much more private than their car or even their home.  Having to "pee in a cup" to work at a retail store is ridiculously demeaning.  Even police aren't drug tested unless the individual officer is suspected of criminal or bizarre behavior.  The Fourth Amendment is SO simple to understand that I don't know why we, as a free people, don't stand up for our own rights that are written into our most sacred founding document, The Constitution!

Peace, Randy

Laborisgood's picture
How about we crack down on

How about we crack down on the sociopaths who abuse the capital gains tax rate.  Let's round up all the people with effective tax rates below 20% and evaluate them.  If they are deemed sociopaths, they must pay full income tax rates as normal income on all of their earnings.  That way we tax payers are not footing the bill for their disease.

Kerry's picture
I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that those who claim to 'want government out of our lives' really seem to want it out of their 'economic life'--as far as implementing against 'our lives' for their 'moral premise', they are all for it.  But, when approached rationally (and comparatively), their 'moral premise' is full of holes.  The first one being 'the legality of alcohol (and tobacco)' vs. 'the illegality of every other drug'--when you compare the medical and social consequences of these, the 'legal drugs' cause more problems than any 'illegal drug'.  The hypocrisy is rampant.....

kevin baggese
kevin baggese's picture
rick scott should be

rick scott should be tested-for a heart!the bastard.

kevin baggese
kevin baggese's picture
rick Scott is trying to do

rick Scott is trying to do two things-engineer a windfall in profits for his wife's chain of testing labs(conflict of interest anyone?)and if the tests were to somehow come back with a majority of positive results a subsequent justification for further social assistance cuts.by the way are not these R-CON jerks always screaming about "government is to big-government needs to stay out of our lives"well it seems to me that Scott is creating a drug testing bureaucracy and certainly not staying out of peoples lives,at least not poor and disadvantaged peoples lives.the Scotts, Snyder's,Walker's,Cristie's,and the other R-CON governors are just conniving,crooked,heartless bullies.the sooner they are out of office the better.

Junicon's picture
scriber1 wrote: The whole

scriber1 wrote:

The whole idea of testing people just because they are dependent and need help is debasing, insulting and immoral.  People on drugs need even more help, because they are on drugs. 

Scriber1 has it figured out.  Policies like this are based on the belief that punishing drug addicts will make them reform.  Since when does that work?  The revolving prison door that drug addicts face should be sufficient evidence for anyone to see that the punitive approach isn't going to work -- ever.  Drug addiction is a physiologically based disorder that has a measurable neurological basis. Taking drug addicts out behind the woodshed might make republicans feel good but it will do nothing whatsoever to address the problem.  Drug abuse is a diagnosable disorder that requires medical help. Until we learn to see it that way, nothing is going to improve. 

scriber1's picture
Scott and the repubs do

Scott and the repubs do understand that drug abuse is a disease that requires medical help, if you're rich.  If you are poor, you're just a no-good lazy addict who deserves to be punished.  To them, rich people are people, poor people are urchins beneath notice, only tolerated when dirty work needs to be done.

DRC's picture
As with the rest of the money

As with the rest of the money wasted in the War on Drugs, drug testing is purely abusive and has no real value for security or workplace safety or quality.

Performance ought to be the test.  If being high makes your work suffer, the fact that your work is not up to snuff is the indicator, not whether you are on welfare or any other social factor.  The equivalent for the unemployed is the ability to function and interact with others.  If you are doing OK, no testing period.

The problem with most of the testing for the operation of heavy equipment, etc., is that it is not able to detect all the drugs that could be a problem.  Marijuana persists as an indicator, so it is easy to bust but not a problem in the first place.  Alcohol is by far the most seriously abused drug in America.

There is also no drug test for hubris, the favorite drug of power.  But there is ample evidence of bad performance making the test for hubris unnecessary.  

What do you do about false

What do you do about false positivies? You get sued by the falsely accused. It opens up too many can of worms. And if someone were to get hurt because of false negatives you get sued for that too. Just too much liability from the standpoint of employer. This is one of few cases when the best course of action by the employer is "See no evil, hear no evil" And we just hide behind "we are not the DEA and don't turn us into one."

Drug testing for the welfare recipients is waste of money. How much does it cost to run the test? This is about the dumbest idea ever put forth by the cons. It is far cheaper to disburse the money to the welfare recipients than to do the test then disburse the fund. The added burden accomplishes what??You don't give the money to those who tested positive? You think they will stop their drug habit, get cleaned up and then accept welfare? Think not!

Oh I guess it accomplishes to give money to the drug testing labs and to the companies that run the private prisons.

Lets see, I think its more of a problem with Oxycontin, alcohol, valium... how many people have marijuana killed vs alcohol? What about all your prescriptions. Do your REALLY NEED THEM? Probably not. Oh I have ADA, pop a pill. Oh I've got minor pain and just can't take it anymore, here pop a pill. I'm feeling blue... pop a pill and cheer up... Why do you think the drug companies are advertising to the public instead of shoving it into the faces of the doctors? They want you to go see a doctor with ailments you didn't know you had. And they want you to demand the doctor to prescribe them. Doctors don't want to be sued by their patient. Doctor Conrad Murray was just an extreme case of mass psychosis our society.

Its better to realize that it may be cheaper to have bit of loss through fraud, embezzelment than push for 100% compliance. The cost associated to pursue the diminishing return WILL far exceed the saving you might realize from stopping the loss itself.

mdhess's picture
The Republican assault on the

The Republican assault on the poor and woorking poor is just an effective diversionary tactic to take attention off of the crony capitalism they engage in.  In this case it is the most cynical kind of crony capitalism since this is a windfall to his own family.

From website ColorLines:

Net savings to the state: $3,400 to $5,000 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $60,000 for a program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.


Bush_Wacker's picture
No system is perfect and you

No system is perfect and you will always have some of the welfare money going to the wrong things.  Drugs, alcohol, cigs, etc.  You do not punish the entire community involved because of that.  What about the kids?  If you take away someone's welfare check because they test positive for drugs then you take money away from that person's children as well.  I think the whole premise is a joke for that reason and for the many good reasons stated above this post.

Laborisgood's picture
A.  Drug testing for welfare

A.  Drug testing for welfare recipients.

B.  Voters ID that requires an unnecessary additional cost.

C.  Allowing corporate money to influence politics easier than union money.

The list goes on and on.  There is a common theme ..... partisan desperation.  The GOP is truly running out of options to keep people from voting for the other party.  Fortunately for them, the other party has adopted many of their bad ideas, so they don't really have to succeed with their grinchy ways.  Unfortunately for the GOP, the people are finally getting fed up with the other party as well for those same bad ideas they have adopted as some sort of ill-conceived electoral jiu-jitsu.  Karma's a bitch!

harry ashburn
harry ashburn's picture
i guess its ok, as long as

i guess its ok, as long as its plotted on  the standard curve...

elgiabo's picture
It's a good idea but the Fed

It's a good idea but the Fed needs to do it not just leave it to the states !!!!

Robindell's picture
This whole idea is compatible

This whole idea is compatible with facisim.

Merkavamike's picture
I totally agree, look at here

I totally agree, look at here in Canada if you want to see a welfare state, you apply for Welfare or disability, you get half your rent off, a free bus pass, free health care, free glasses, a living allowance, and all of these things written off, while the worker which Thom Hartmann talks about all the time, has to foot the bill. One thing never mentioned is what if you work six-days a week, want a good life , with a car and nice apartment, taking all the crap from work and life to make it happen.....is that wrong? should I a hard-working fellow, that struggles and suffers to make things happen should be treat like a villian because some normal person thinks it's smug to abuse the social safety net. I know alot of rich people just inherit their money, but also alot of people sweat blood and tears, to make a good life just to see half their middle class income vanish to support those are perfectly fit to work, but choose to do nothing and live off the public funds.

from above: ".... but also

from above: ".... but also alot of people sweat blood and tears, to make a good life just to see half their middle class income vanish to support those are perfectly fit to work, but choose to do nothing and live off the public funds."

poly replies: Well, banksters and financiers have monetary claims on the entire economic output of the globe...including your own.

In return for that, they have produced NOTHING.except gambling debts. The Fed gives them money at 0% interest so we can borrow it back to pay their gambling debts.

It gives them money in exchange for wortthless gambling paper so they won't be insolvent...and calls it even.

The last audit of the Fed showed $13 trillion for financiers/banksters...and counting.

I think your concerns over a kid on food stamps, etc.,  are a bit mis-placed. The Food Stamp money will be cut back...to feed the banksters/financiers. They have monetary claims on all of it. Claims on every last dime the nation produces. Don't fret about the "idle poor" getting your money. That isn't where it's headed.

Probably the CEO of Goldman Sachs isn't required by government to do a drug test.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"


MEJ's picture
but then, where would the

but then, where would the artists come from?