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Drug Testing for Welfare: Should People on Welfare be Drug Tested

“DrugDrug testing for welfare recipients has become a hot button issue across America. In fact, legislation requiring drug testing for welfare recipients was proposed in 29 states over the last year, and passed in 8 states. With the argument raging on both sides of party lines and welfare drug testing statistics being thrown around, Americans are weighing in with their opinions.

Here is a look at the most common arguments being used on each side in the welfare drug testing argument:

Pro-Drug Testing Arguments

Drug Testing Welfare Recipients is Fiscally Responsible
Proponents believe that it is fiscally irresponsible to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the use of illegal drugs. Therefore, drug testing would ensure that taxpayer dollars would be used wisely to help individuals that need assistance and are going to use the money the way it was intended – for necessities, rather than illegal leisure activities.

Testing Incentivizes Drug Users to Get Clean
By withholding badly needed welfare dollars as a result of a positive drug test, it incentivizes recipients to stay clean. Getting individuals off of drugs tackles the root of the problem, instead of ignoring the addictions that are keeping them down.

Drug Testing is Required by Employers Too
Drug testing welfare recipients is not a new concept – many private employers drug test employees upon hire as a condition of employment, and some even drug test employees regularly. If drug testing is required for many members of the work force, why is it a big deal to require it for the unemployed as well?

Welfare Given to Drug Addicts isn’t Helping their Families
When welfare is given to drug addicts the money is not being spent to take care of their families. Instead, addicts are likely to squander the money without it ever making it to children and other dependents.

If Taxpayers are Funding Welfare, they should be Allowed to Regulate It
The argument here is that the people who are funding welfare should have a say as to what is happening with their money. Voters who cast ballots in favor of drug testing for welfare recipients, or other welfare reform measures, are voicing their desire to ensure that the money is going to people who need it most and will use it responsible ways.

Anti-Drug Testing Arguments

Mandatory Drug Testing is a Violation of Human Rights
Forcing people who are down on their luck to take a drug test is not only embarrassing and humiliating, but also a violation of rights. Subjecting the needy to drug testing stigmatizes financial need in a way that can be degrading to a population of people who may have just caught a bad break.

Denying Welfare to Drug Users Unfairly Punishes Families
Drug users are someone’s parents, siblings, and children. Withholding welfare from these people means that their dependents will go without. It’s not fair to punish these people (especially minors) for someone else’s discretions.

Welfare Money is Not being used to Buy Drugs
While everyone can agree that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be handed out to pay for illegal recreational drugs, giving welfare to drug users does not mean that that is how they are using the money. Even drug addicts still have basic human needs, and welfare ensures that these needs will be met.

There are Better Solutions
Everyone can agree that the current welfare system is flawed and needs ongoing oversight and reform to function optimally, but drug testing can get expensive. A better, more cost-effective, solution is to further restrict how EBT cards can be used.

Where do you draw the Line?
The argument against drug testing welfare recipients is not simply limited to welfare. Opponents ask “If you’re going to drug test for welfare, where do you draw the line?” Is drug testing going to be required for student aid and grants? What about public research grants? The concern is that regulation of this sort will spiral out of control and just go too far.

Regardless of what you believe about this important and controversial topic, there are many factors at play to consider. Did we miss anything in our analysis of the issues? Tell us below! 


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