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Drug Tests for Welfare Gain Momentum

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

A recent Time Magazine article discusses the more than twenty states who are planning to make drug testing a mandatory part of welfare application and receipt. Republicans and other conservatives are fans of the idea; Mitt Romney said “it’s an excellent idea,” and Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg said that those who “can afford to buy drugs, and use drugs…don’t need” welfare. Another aspect of the plan is that applicants who fail the drug test must complete substance abuse treatment in order to qualify for welfare again. “The five percent, or the four percent, or whatever that percentage is that is on drugs, will have a choice to make,” said Sonnenberg. “They will either do what they can to get clean, or not have their (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds,” he said.

On the other hand, critics of the drug testing proposal maintain that the plan perpetuates the stereotype of low-income drug users, when in reality drug abuse affects people from all walks of life. The Wyoming ACLU Director Linda Burt mentioned that her organization would likely challenge the program if Wyoming were to adopt it: “We challenged it in Michigan. We challenged it in Florida. Both of those cases found that singling out this particular group of people for drug testing was unconstitutional with absolutely no cause.”


Source: Time Magazine

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