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Drug test them!

January 4, 2014 - John Stack
Drug test them!

One post I see often on Facebook is something along the lines of "Let's get behind Florida and require drug tests of welfare recipients". it will go on to say something like "If i need to be drug tested for my job, they should be drug tested to get benefits". It is an easy argument. If people are receiving benefits from the government, they shouldn't be spending money on drugs. Or, more so, that drug addicts shouldn't be getting free money! The quick and easy (and ignorant) response is "Of course they shouldn't ! Drug test them!".

But what exactly is the driving force behind this reaction? (and I hope I don't devolve into an Eric Stratton-esque rebuttal here). Easily, many people have problems with recipients getting money from the government at all, believing many are worthless, shifty ne'er do wells that are scamming the system. These people need no excuse to rip into those less fortunate. But, many who believe our safety net is a good thing, see the drug testing idea as a slam dunk. But why?

Is it that by testing just once for marijuana is a horrendous lack of control and indicative of immoral activities and poor parenting among others? is smoking pot that much more awful than drinking? Do people lose their sensibilities much more than a drunk? Sticking with how deleterious smoking is, who is it that smokes pot? Well, in many communities, recreational pot users include doctors, judges, lawyers, mayors, policemen, clergy, state workers, carpenters and office workers. Say you are at a large party, say 50 people most of who are friends of yours. Most seem like they are upstanding citizens and respected. now, of those 50 there is a good chance that at least 5 of them smoked pot recently. Almost half of them have tried pot in their lives. It is not an addictive drug, it does less cognitive damage than alcohol, much less dangerous to your health than cigarettes. Yet, no one is pushing a law to check for alcohol drinking, which is worse in almost every way, and 2/3 of all adults drink alcohol and about 20% smoke cigarettes, but there again is no clamor to test for smoking. But, they shouldn't be spending their money on things not absolutely essential. OK, fair point. I guess then those on TANF should only be able to buy veggies, fruits and other food items deemed acceptable by the "essential" police. They should also be forced to buy off-brand on everything, otherwise be denied benefits. I don't remember any employer telling you to shop only at Aldis and not at Price Chopper, although this would be analogous. But we shouldn't let drug addicts have benefits! Well, "we" shouldn't be condoning people for being addicts. But, currently, there are more people who are alcoholics, today, than have even smoked pot in the last year. Plus, the incredible vast majority of people who do smoke pot are not addicts. So, to test positive for pot and to call them an addict is like saying that everyone who is drinking at a party is an alcoholic. so, the argument is really a straw man, claiming they are trying to keep drugs from addicts whereas there is no actual cause an effect at all of punishing someone for smoking a joint and curing addiction. But its illegal!! True, it looks bad when someone who is getting public benefits re also breaking the law. Why stop there? Jaywalking? Your son goes without food. Speeding? You 2 year old can't have a doctor's checkup. A parking ticket? You and your kids are thrown into the street. Drive on a suspended license ? Looks like CPS is going to take away your kids. But I need to pass a drug test to keep my job! Well, some jobs that makes sense. if you are in the health professions, I'd prefer not to have a drunk or stoned nurse taking care of me. I think its right that prison guards and truck drivers and police are held to a higher standard because of the dangerous situations an inebriated state could cause. But other jobs? Most employers are able to demand a lot of their employees - some can fire you for drinking or smoking too. Or is it " Because I have to, they have to?". I needed a 4 year degree and a good score on a test and a clean drivers license to get my job. MA psychotherapist needs a masters degree and years of patient care to be fully licensed as an "R". Should we also put these limitations on recipients?

By the way, all of these proposals have no clause about what to do with people who test positive. These are states that are cutting back/eliminating addiction services. These are places that have very little in job training programs .There plan is - cut services and the problem miraculously disappears. Now, what was your reason to back drug testing?


Article Comments



Jan-20-14 9:04 PM

goose...if you look at the real facts about Florida it has been a clear savings for the taxpayers. The welfare rolls have dwindled due to drug users refusing to take the tests. 1,597 applicants refused to take the testing 2011 and lost benefits. news dot yahoo dot com/florida-mandatory-drug-test-welfare-working-200100743.html


Jan-18-14 9:20 PM

Next time, skip the joint before the letter to the editor. Nothing says "I'm stoned" like such a sloppy mess standing behind welfare pot smokers in the local newspaper. There's so much I want to say about this, but I'll try to chunk it down. First, I don't want my tax dollars ending up in dealers' hands via welfare. And it's not just about weed. There's a lot more out there than concerns me more than pot AND alcohol. Lastly, it's not about saving money. It's about me NOT funding some chump's high. Full disclosure: I like smoking pot. I have a job, too.


Jan-18-14 10:54 AM

The idea never was "to save money" although it may have been sold as such. The motivation was to make money for the companies selling the testing materials and the hook was to tap into the need many have to punish what they see as moral transgressions, usually among those less fortunate than themselves.


Jan-13-14 9:58 AM

If the idea behind drug testing is to save taxpayers money, just look at how well that's working in Florida. It's actually costing more to do the drug testing than what they are realizing in savings by booting people off the dole for using. They are actually finding that there are less people using drugs while on the dole than the population at large. Big waste of time and resources.


Jan-09-14 7:22 PM

And by age 30 if they still have not found employment, euthanasia would be a great and cost saving option...


Jan-09-14 7:21 PM

If you keep having children without being able to pay for them after the second one you need to be fixed. Why allow more children into this world who will just be a burden to society as their "parents" were. Have better foster care and take these kids away from these people who just use them as meal tickets.


Jan-07-14 1:41 PM

Smoking pot, drinking Alcohol in excess and doing opiate based drugs closes a lot of doors which could have been open to people. I really don't mind if you're unemployed or on welfare. Not being able to pass a drug test or being hung over all the time certainly limits your ability to find work and hold down a decent job.

Now I always thought I was as liberal as if Sean Penn was majoring in Womens' Studies at UC Berkley, but yeah, maybe we should have at minimum, random drug tests for people receiving govt. handouts. Heck, we should start with the legislature too and both houses of congress! It seems sometimes the yahoo's I'm working for now require a POSITIVE drug test just to remain employed or something.


Jan-05-14 6:42 PM

JOHN! What the heck are you doing??? "Welfare" is suppose to be a "helping hand" so people with "problems" don't fall through the cracks, not so they can buy crack! It's not a "lifestyle", it's a last resort. Mothers, Fathers and Children with "absentee" should first look towards their "absent" "parent" for support. This is not to say the State (us) shouldn't help those who cannot help themselves. But why should our hard earned tax dollars buy the "Parental figure" drugs, cigys and booze while the children eat from a "Food Shelf"? As you know, food stamps (SNAP) is only a portion of what is provided. And it is easy to "sell" your SNAP benefits, ask any cashier at TOPs, they see the tricks daily.


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