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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

Contrary to popular belief, not as many people on welfare are abusing drugs as you might think. Despite that fact, almost two dozen states are considering measures that would require drug testing for welfare recipients, the Associated Press reports.

It is fair to say that there is a stigma surrounding people who collect welfare, a number of people believe that welfare recipients are milking a broken system and are more likely to use illegal drugs as well as abuse prescription drugs. However, statistics have shown that most welfare recipients do not use their state funding to buy drugs, according to the AP.

In the past, bills that have been put forward have been shut down on the grounds that such testing is unconstitutional. Yet, republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he supports drug testing of welfare recipients and Newt Gingrich has said he considers testing as a way to curb drug use and lower related costs to public programs.

An estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—8.9 percent of the population—were current illicit drug users, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Michigan conducted a random drug testing program that showed a similar percentage of its public assistance applicants tested positive.

Florida has been labeled the epicenter of prescription drug abuse in America, but, the state found its welfare applicants were less likely than Americans in general to use drugs. In October, a federal judge halted the Florida law that would require welfare recipients to be tested, ruling it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

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