The absurdity of drug testing public assistance applicants

Kevin Rogers, an attorney with Action NC, has an excellent opinion piece in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“For all the trouble they caused this session, N.C. General Assembly leaders lacked a certain amount of inventiveness.

Almost every bill they introduced was already being considered, or was law, somewhere else.Case in point, during the final hours in Raleigh, the General Assembly passed a foolish bill requiring those applying for public assistance to pass a drug test before they can become eligible. This unconstitutional idea has been tried before in other states, and it makes no more sense here than it did when it was first implemented, and failed miserably, in Florida.

In 2010, Florida became the first state to pass and fully implement a bill mandating mandatory drug testing of all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The law mandated that all applicants pay for the cost of the drug test themselves, and that they be reimbursed if their test came back negative. The law was in effect for a mere four months before a federal court said it was unconstitutional.Nearly two years later, the New York Times released the most comprehensive data yet on how the law fared during the short period of time it was in effect. We already knew that the law was a failure, but what we didn’t know was just how much of a failure it was.

In the four months that Florida’s law was in place, the state drug- tested 4,086 TANF applicants. A mere 108 individuals tested positive, meaning, only 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive for illegal drugs. This is a rate more than three times lower than the 8.13 percent of all Floridians, age 12 and up, estimated by the federal government to use illegal drugs. This was in direct conflict with the argument made by Gov. Rick Scott, who said the law was necessary because welfare recipients used drugs at a higher rate than the general population.”

Read the rest of Kevin’s essay by clicking here.


  1. Doug

    August 8, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Well I guess you are right. Druggies should be allowed to have as much public assistance as possible, that will allow them more money to spend on the drugs and still be able to have public housing, food stamps, and Obamafones.

  2. gregflynn

    August 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    To be eligible for Lifeline, a person cannot earn more than 135 percent of the federal poverty level — about $31,700 for a family of four — or take part in other federal assistance services.

    Critics deride Lifeline as providing “Obama phones,” though program was started in 1985 and was expanded to cover cellphone service in 2005 under then-President George W. Bush.

    The Hill

  3. Doug

    August 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Looks like all you have to do is have a name and frequent the right places, just use that Google thing to look up Obamaphone scam to investigate farther. Nice straw man though greggy what with not actually answering the meat of my question and all.


  4. Mark

    August 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Anyone who thinks this is a good idea, doesn’t have a clue. Sure, it sounds like a good idea on paper, but in the real world, it will not work. It’s been proven to not work in several places. It is also only for Welfare recipients. It does not affect people with just EBT cards(food stamps). etc. It only requires those people to have a criminal background check. The last statistics I heard from a state that tried this, were less than 3% testing positive for illegal drugs. Almost all of those were for pot. Which lets face it, will not be illegal for much longer. Which it shouldn’t be. I read about this on several sites, and people seem to think this will stop the selling of food stamps for drugs. Which once again shows a lot of people just don’t have a clue, when it comes to these things. First, like I said, this doesn’t affect EBT card holders. Second, people don’t sell their EBT card for drugs usually. They can’t, because they would not be able to get it refilled. Because they wouldn’t have the card. People usually just take the dealer to the store, and buy them what they want. No way to stop that. Anyone who uses drugs on a regular basis, knows how to pass a drug test within an hour. You may not think so, or whatever, but it is true. With regular basis users, that is part of their life. So they learn these things. ALL OF THEM. Just like you know about everything concerning whatever your interest is in. Then for ANY drug other than pot, it only takes a maximum of two days for it to get out of your system. Plenty of time for them to get clean before the deadline they have to get a test done.

  5. Mark

    August 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Just an FYI. Most of the people that receive benefits, and associate with or have anything to do with drugs, are not regular drug users. They are usually just drug sellers. 99.9% of the ones that do on occasion do any drugs, pay for them with money they got for selling the same drug. They buy “X” amount, sell half of it, and the profit from that pays for theirs. Those that get …say… only food assistance, usually use that for actual food. There is no extra to blow on drugs. People normally don’t even get enough to cover their food.

Check Also

Op-eds: Father’s Day week reminds us of the need for paid leave laws

In case you missed them, a pair of ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

With midterm elections around the corner, lawmakers have, unsurprisingly, taken aim at last minute c [...]

On May 25, the news headlines read that Democratic state Senate candidate Jen Mangrum had been disqu [...]

If it seemed impossible that neighbors of industrialized hog farms had any legal rights left to lose [...]

Can you put a price tag on victims' rights? A fiscal note obtained by NC Policy Watch that has [...]

The post SB 711 – The pig’s roast appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

In another effort to pander to the minority of Americans who want to make abortion and birth control [...]

The practice of loading down noncontroversial legislation with divisive and partisan provisions is a [...]

It usually happens a few times every legislative session: at some point during their annual stay in [...]