1. Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.
    PLEASE HELP

Spending on the Poor is OK... When It’s for Drug Tests!

By SublimeTrip, Dec 31, 2013 | Updated: Jan 1, 2014 | | |
  1. SublimeTrip
    It turns out that Republicans are willing to spend money on low-income Americans, at least when it comes to wasteful drug tests for welfare benefits.

    In Minnesota, officials are angry with the new requirement to test welfare recipients for drug use. Why? Because it’s a waste of time and money:

    Like a recent wave of drug-testing laws passed in other states, Minnesota’s legislation was touted as a way to encourage greater responsibility among welfare recipients while saving taxpayers money. […]

    A new analysis by the state Department of Human Services (DHS) found that participants in Minnesota’s welfare program for low-income families are actually far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the adult population as a whole.

    Of the terrible policy ideas that gained traction in 2013, this is one of the worst. Not only is this cruel and stigmatizing to the less fortunate—we don’t require drug tests for people who receive the mortgage interest deduction, for instance—there’s no evidence that welfare recipients are more likely to abuse drugs. In fact, according to the most recent research, the overall incidence of illegal drug use among people on welfare is low—in one study, just 3.6 percent of recipients satisfied screening criteria for drug abuse or dependence.

    In Minnesota, more than 70,000 people are enrolled in the state’s main cash welfare program. Of those, just 2,800—or 4 percent—have felony drug convictions, compared to 1.2 percent of the overall adult population. In all likelihood, the state will lose money as it tries to identify and test these recipients.

    In that, it will join the dozens of states who have plowed ahead with similar proposals. In Utah, for instance, only 12 out 466 people—or 2.5 percent—showed evidence of drug use after screening, at a cost to the state of $25,000. Likewise, Florida spent more than $45,000 on testing to no avail—just 108 of the 4,086 people who took the test failed. Out of the 1,890 people screened for drugs in Oklahoma—which passed a test law in 2012—just eighty-three people tested positive, at a cost of $83,000 to the state.

    One of the biggest failures is in Missouri, where the state spent $493,000 on drug testing for this fiscal year. It received 32,511 welfare applications and referred 636 for drug testing. Only twenty came back positive, although nearly two hundred people refused to comply. But even if all 200 were drug users, that still comes to more than $2,200 per positive result, which is more expensive than the median benefit in the state.

    As for who backs these laws? You shouldn’t be shocked to learn that the push for mandatory drug testing is a joint project of the American Legislative Exchange Council—also known for wonderful ideas like “Stand Your Ground”—and the Republican Party. Which, is fitting. The Republican agenda for low-income Americans is non-existent; the most the party can offer are banalities about economic growth and opportunity. When it comes to actual policies to improve the lives of the least fortunate, the GOP is silent. Instead, it’s energy is devoted to denouncing Democratic proposals like emergency unemployment insurance or a higher minimum wage, and attacking the unemployed as lazy and unwilling to work.

    As such, mandatory drug tests are par for the course. They aren’t effective and they don’t save money, but they stigmatize the poor, and for today’s Republican Party, that seems to be enough.

    Jamelle Bouie
    December 31, 2013
    The Daily Beast

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articl...-the-poor-is-ok-when-it-s-for-drug-tests.html

Comments

  1. Rob Cypher
    MN Officials Complain That Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is A Waste Of Time & $$$

    Minnesota counties are preparing to start randomly drug testing the individuals who receive welfare benefits, a new requirement that was passed as an amendment during the 2012 legislative session. But local officials are frustrated with the new policy, saying it’s largely a waste of time and money — and could actually end up costing taxpayers.

    The drug-testing policy was touted as a method of saving taxpayer dollars, intended to lower the number of people who receive state benefits by excluding drug users. But county officials and anti-poverty advocates point out it’s based on the flawed assumption that a large portion of welfare beneficiaries are using illegal drugs. In reality, according to a recent analysis from the state’s Department of Health Services, welfare recipients are far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the general population.

    And the law — which requires each country to conduct “random” drug tests among the small pool of people who receive government benefits and also have a prior felony drug conviction — will result in a web of complicated new regulations. It’s up to each county to figure out how to enforce it, so local officials are currently devising plans for notifying beneficiaries about the new law and asking them to come in for testing. Since the legislation didn’t include additional funding to carry out the drug testing, counties are taking on any extra costs themselves.

    “This just takes away that much time that we could be working to get benefits out to people faster,” Heidi Welsch, the director of family support and assistance for Olmsted County, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that this is about saving taxpayers money. This is punitive.”

    One of the biggest issues with Minnesota’s new law is that some people may end up getting cut off from their benefits not because they’re actually using drugs, but because they don’t have the right paperwork. Now, in order to keep receiving state assistance, the people who have previously been convicted of a drug felony must prove that they’re either participating in drug treatment, have successfully completed treatment, or have received a county assessment confirming they don’t treatment. But according to Kathleen Davis, a supervising attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, many of these welfare recipients are homeless or in transitional housing. It may be too difficult for local officials to contact them in time, and they may not have all the required documents.

    “This will have serious ramifications,” Davis noted. “A lot of people will lose their benefits before they ever get to the random drug testing, because they aren’t able to satisfactorily prove that they meet the criteria.”

    At least nine states have passed laws requiring drug testing or screening for welfare recipients. Those states have already provided significant evidence that it’s not a cost-effective policy. The first state to implement this type of drug testing, Florida, spent a net of $45,000 on the program and ultimately found that just two percent of recipients were using drugs — a lower rate than the general population. Utah has spent more than $30,000 to drug test its welfare recipients over the past year, and just 12 people have tested positive. And, since these laws have been repeatedly blocked in court, they also carry the risk of hefty legal fees for the states that are forced to defend them.

    Nonetheless, lawmakers continue to rush to propose mandatory drug testing bills; at least 29 states introduced some version of this policy in 2013. The legislation is backed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing lobbying group that also pushes policies to undermine immigration reform, gun safety, clean energy, and voting rights.

    Tara Culp-Ressler
    ThinkProgress
    December 30, 2013

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/12/30/3108101/minnesota-drug-testing/
  2. Diverboone
    Every time I read a so heavily biased article I tend to wonder where such strong convictions stem from. I do not agree with most drug testing programs in general. But the testing of Welfare recipients makes more sense than many other programs. And I do not understand why those that advocate so strongly against Welfare recipients and stand mute when it come to drug testing those that are employed and pay the tax dollars that fund Welfare? I have been drug tested over 8 times this year. Why should I,the tax payer be held to a higher standard than the recipient who has requested to receive some of the tax money I have paid in?

    "A new analysis by the state Department of Human Services (DHS) found that participants in Minnesota’s welfare program for low-income families are actually far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the adult population as a whole."

    How does this information pertain to the testing of Welfare recipients? I fail to see where this is even relate or adds anything to the article. Statements such as this raise red flags when I read them. "Not only is this cruel and stigmatizing to the less fortunate—we don’t require drug tests for people who receive the mortgage interest deduction, for instance."

    It's much less cruel and stigmatizing for the recipient. The tax payer is mandated to the same treatment, along with the added burden of money that is seized from his pay check in order to fund the Welfare Program. Submit to drug test along with having money seized is much more cruel than submit to drug test and receive free money

    "there’s no evidence that welfare recipients are more likely to abuse drugs. In fact, according to the most recent research, the overall incidence of illegal drug use among people on welfare is low—in one study, just 3.6 percent of recipients satisfied screening criteria for drug abuse or dependence."

    This adds nothing to the article and is in effect more smoke being blown.

    " In Minnesota, more than 70,000 people are enrolled in the state’s main cash welfare program. Of those, just 2,800—or 4 percent—have felony drug convictions, compared to 1.2 percent of the overall adult population. In all likelihood, the state will lose money as it tries to identify and test these recipients."

    Adds nothing as the article is about drug testing Welfare recipients, not felons.


    "In that, it will join the dozens of states who have plowed ahead with similar proposals. In Utah, for instance, only 12 out 466 people—or 2.5 percent—showed evidence of drug use after screening, at a cost to the state of $25,000. Likewise, Florida spent more than $45,000 on testing to no avail—just 108 of the 4,086 people who took the test failed. Out of the 1,890 people screened for drugs in Oklahoma—which passed a test law in 2012—just eighty-three people tested positive, at a cost of $83,000 to the state."

    Positive drug test is not an accuracy means to determent the success rate of cost/savings. Positive test fail to take into account how many people failed to request Welfare due to the deterrent effect of drug test? It's misleading to grade this Drug Testing Program by the number of positives. The program was implemented on the bases of to ease the steady rise in cost to fund Welfare and insure that Welfare is paid out to those who truly need it.

    "One of the biggest failures is in Missouri, where the state spent $493,000 on drug testing for this fiscal year. It received 32,511 welfare applications and referred 636 for drug testing. Only twenty came back positive, although nearly two hundred people refused to comply. But even if all 200 were drug users, that still comes to more than $2,200 per positive result, which is more expensive than the median benefit in the state."

    I question whether $2,200 is more than the median benefit. Other States report a much high median benefit.









  3. jazzyj9
    I think it is wasteful spending, personally since the money can be spent on educational programs and job training that improve lives and make drug use less likely. There was a study about rats that had lived in enriched environments versus impoverished ones that minimized preference for drugs. I think this model makes sense for humans also. Why not spend money on improving neighborhoods and schools instead of jumping through hoops to get a pittance of money.

    Work related drug testing makes sense for certain jobs, like pilots and medical professionals as a safety measure to the public. Although I have mixed feelings about random drug testing and think a certain degree of trust needs to be established. There's a lot of other things tax payers pay for like the bank bailout and other welfare for the rich that people don't bitch and moan about. I do think taxes tend to be unfair and that people with less income pay more than the rich and that is f'd up.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!