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Drug Testing for Welfare: Opinions Polarized Across US


Drug testing for welfare and state assistance is a relatively new advent of the legal system in states like Florida and South Carolina, but even in the southern US where drug testing for welfare is more widely accepted than elsewhere in the country, opinions are still strong. The Anniston Star newspaper of Alabama reported on July 20, 2012 “State-sponsored drug testing was one of those ideas that gained traction quickly among those convinced that people on welfare are spending the money they get on illegal drugs.”
According to results reported by the paper, along with results reported by the Miami Herald, and New York Times have drawn the statistical and mathematical conclusion that these welfare drug tests save the states no money—not to mention the feelings of those who have to take the blood drug test to receive the benefits they need financially. Gary Montoya of Sarasota echoes opinions of other Florida natives: “I never did a drug in my life. Lost my job last year [be]cause of layoffs. Now I have to get stuck with a needle to prove it? Like I’m not already embarrassed enough taking money? Makes it feel like a handout. It hurts.”

For those who have to pass a drug test to receive benefits, the race seems to be on from one state to the next, despite the fact that drug testing for welfare measures are doing nothing for state revenues or savings. In addition, proponents of the bill could be overlooking where the money could be better spent—rehabilitating those who are using drugs so they can return to work and not have to depend on the state. On July 3, 2012, The Republic reported that the state of Ohio would be extending its use of Medicaid to include anti-narcotics treatment. Rather than forcing people to pass a drug test for welfare, Ohio is asking people to come forward with failed drug tests for the help that they need.
From one state to the next, rulings may currently be polarized, but during an election year, this kind of polarization is to be expected. Lawmaking may likely not become any easier, however, with opinions on welfare drug testing being what they are this close to November. 


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