States that Require Drug Testing for Welfare Benefits

States that Require Drug Testing for Welfare Benefits


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In recent years, state legislatures have proposed legislation requiring welfare recipients to submit to drug tests as a condition of obtaining government assistance. A number of these initiatives call for a suspicion-free environment.

Many welfare recipients are exposed to random drug testing. To warrant a drug test, there must be a fair presumption of drug use. These laws tend to have broad popular support, but they also faced fierce resistance. Proponents argue that these regulations prohibit the misappropriation of public funds, specifically for the purchase of drugs.

    History And Overview

    Substance misuse has been a topic of debate in public assistance reform. Since the federal welfare reform in 1996, states have proposed drug testing of applicants and public assistance programs recipients.

    As part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families granting, federal laws provide drug testing policies. Nearly every state has proposed some drug testing or screening for job applicants in recent years.

    In 2009, more than 20 states proposed legislation requiring drug testing as a condition of receiving public assistance. At least 12 states had similar proposals in 2010. None of these bills passed because the bulk of them focused on "random" drug testing. Beginning in the 2011 session, these measures gained importance.

    Three states enacted legislation in 2011, four states enacted legislation in 2012, two states enacted legislation in 2013, and three states enacted legislation in 2014, for a total of twelve states.

    Kansas passed legislation in 2013 requiring drug tests for candidates and recipients who are accused of abusing controlled substances.

    In 2012, Utah passed legislation requiring all Temporary Assistance applicants for Poor Families to complete a written questionnaire screening for substance use.

    Georgia passed legislation requiring drug checks for all applicants.

    Tennessee passed a bill requiring the department to create a plan for all applicants to be checked for substance abuse, and

    Oklahoma approved a bill requiring all TANF applicants to be screened for illicit drug use.

    The best drug test to detect drug abuse for up to 90 days is Hair Drug Test Kit. It is ideal for personal and professional use. 

    Drug Testing Program – Types

    There are three types of occupational drug testing programs: 

    1. Career candidate pre-employment testing
    2. Employee incident-driven or for-cause testing
    3. Post-employment testing without a clear cause

    Pre-Employment drug testing is not only the most popular form of drug testing used in businesses today, but it has also gotten the most recognition from the scientific community. List of drugs to be tested:

    1. Benzodiazepine 
    2. Barbiturates 
    3. Amphetamines 
    4. Phencyclidine 
    5. Opiates 

    For Cause Testing, this method of testing categorizes a range of scenarios, including "post-incident," "post-accident," "near miss," and "rational suspicion." When an occupational safety event or injury occurs, testing becomes a procedure carried out as part of a comprehensive investigation into the causes that led to the accident or incident.

    Drug Testing’s Implementation In 12 States

    Such a law has been enacted in 12 states. Those are Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Missouri.

    The following are some of the plans and initiatives that have recently been implemented or are currently being considered in various states concerning the issue:

    Maine: A new law requires welfare recipients with a recent drug arrest. Those who show signs of dependence take drug tests. Those who fail to take the test or test positive will be forced to undergo treatment to continue receiving assistance.

    Georgia: Attempts to enforce food stamp drug testing. State officials learned that federal law requires testing for TANF, and violating these laws could cost the state money.

    Wisconsin: Wisconsin's governor is pushing for legislation that would require drug testing for adults on Medicaid, as well as to those applying for or receiving unemployment or other state assistance. The governor has stated that he would offer free drug testing, counselling, and career training in exchange.

    Florida: The state taking strict measures and making drug testing compulsory to all welfare applicants, even though no suspicion of drug use exists.

    Michigan: The House and Senate have passed legislation to launch a one-year pilot program in three counties that will require drug testing of welfare recipients suspected of drug use. A positive test would result in a referral to a drug program, while a failure to test may result in the loss of benefits under the new pilot program.

    Colorado: Welfare recipients in Colorado would be subjected to random drug tests if there is a fair presumption of drug abuse. A positive test would result in the possibility of therapy while still receiving funds. However, if a person continues to fail drug tests in the future, they still lose their benefits.

    Montana: This state plans to drug test welfare applicants who have a history of drug abuse or dependence, as well as others who are suspected of having a problem with drugs. To earn insurance, people who test positive will have to complete a 30-day treatment program. Children of disqualified parents, on the other hand, will be compensated by a third party.

    Drug testing as Eligibility Condition

    Checking welfare beneficiaries for drugs as a condition of eligibility is an unsound approach from a science, economic, and constitutional standpoint. While no state requires drug testing recipients to submit as a condition of eligibility, some states consider it.

    1. It is immoral from a scientific and medical standpoint of Random drug testing for welfare recipients:

    For instance, seventy per cent of all illegal drug users (and probably a much higher percentage of alcoholics) are working full-time between 18 and 49. The majority of scientists and medical professionals reject the drug testing of welfare recipients.

    1. It is fiscally reckless to screen welfare beneficiaries at random for drugs:

    Many private employers do not use drug testing because of the high cost of catching each person's positive tests. So, they consider Drug testing as an unreliable method of detecting drug misuse.

    1. Under both the US Constitution and certain state constitutions, random drug testing of welfare recipients is possibly unconstitutional:

    Individuals have more privacy rights in certain state constitutions than in the United States Constitution. Likely, welfare recipients' compulsory drug monitoring programs would also fall out of these state-specific safeguards.

    Significant Issues in implementing Drug Testing and receiving its Benefits

    Positive outcomes range from 3.5 per cent in Utah to 16.9 per cent in Kansas, which is when only those referred to complete a follow-up drug test are considered. The costs of screening and evaluating applicants differ from state to state. Missouri, for example, spent an average of $7,006 per positive test result, while Oklahoma spent $1,299 and Tennessee spent $200.

    Drug testing programs are detrimental to children by limiting the services available to the whole family. When someone disqualifies for assistance, the total household receives less aid because the benefit amount assessment also includes the ineligible member's income.

    Furthermore, while a child may continue to receive benefits from a "protective pay" who may be expected to engage in drug screening and testing because a parent is disqualified for drug-testing-related purposes, confident parents may be unaware that they can still apply for benefits for their children even though they are ineligible.

    In certain states, an adult applicant who tests positive for a substance use disorder can still be eligible for TANF if they complete a human services agency-recommended substance use disorder treatment or work skills training program.

    However, since chemical tests cannot assess drug use disorder, testing positive does not mean you need medication. For instance - A person suffering from alcoholism\may not be detected by these tests, but a casual MMJ user might be. Even when medication is needed, many challenges prevent patients from accessing long-term care.

    There is a lack of care slots in many treatment areas, and prenatal, and parenting services are even more limited. Passing a drug test should never be a requirement for applicants or existing recipients of public assistance for the reasons stated above. It's expensive, produces few meaningful results, and is unsuccessful at recognizing people with substance abuse problems.


    The existence of significant associations between substance use and occupational performance measures does not necessarily suggest that a successful drug-testing program can dramatically improve workforce performance. A program that significantly improves performance with some workers or some job settings can do little to improve performance with others.

    Despite popular opinion, the effectiveness of drug-testing services in preventing crime has never been sufficiently demonstrated. While some research suggests that employment drug-testing programs have a deterrent impact, there is no definitive empirical evidence from adequately conducted trials that employment drug-testing programs broadly prevent drug use or promote relapse.

    Many studies of workplace alcohol and other drug use have flaws in their design and implementation. Organizations that perform their drug studies will improve quality control and contribute to a knowledge base that shall help them cope more effectively with potential alcohol and other drug issues by allowing their researchers to publish in professional journals.

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