So last year Florida passed a bill requiring those applying for welfare to submit to drug testing. (This was, months later, placed on hold by a judge and I am unsure of the current status). Numerous other states, including Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and others have proposed similiar laws.
Now- on the one hand, I am opposed to welfare recipients spending taxpayer dollars on drugs- including alcohol and tobacco. But on another I have a real problem with saying someone
One of the biggest issues I have relates to the weakness inherent in testing. Marijuana can be detected for weeks, while most other drugs are a matter of days, or even hours. And when neither alcohol nor tobacco abuse is being tested for, how can we legitimize testing for cannabis- a drug much safer then either?
And let’s be realistic. These testing programs do nothing to identify problems with drug abuse that may be making the problems of poverty and un/under employment worse. They simply test for a few of the “unapproved” drugs- while allowing one of the largest problems- alcohol abuse, go unchecked. They also offer no help, and no hoe, for those that do have an addiction problem to get help.
And of course, once again, society ignores its own culpability. Socio/economic factors play a huge role in both poverty and drug abuse. We tend to ignore the fact that often the poorest among us have lond suffered from an indifference at best, if not outright malice. Lack of education and healthcare, lack of other services mainstream america takes for granted, discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. And of course- many of the states proposing these laws are the ones who have failed the worst at trying to help the disenfranchised.
And lets be real- Alcohol and tobacco are the highest cost of any drugs to society based solely on their negative effects. In other words- health care costs, lost productivity at work, drunk driving, alcohol fueled violence, domestic violence and rape, house fires due to cigarettes. When you remove the costs to society solely due to prohibition, the cost of illegal drugs pales in comparison.
And these testing programs do nothing to address the issue of alcohol dependence- which is a major obstacle to many for improving their lives.
And once again I find the hypocrisy of conservatives amazing. These are people that wrap themselves in the constitution, and yet here they are clearly ignoring the Fourth Ammendment- which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. There is no reasonable suspicion that those applying for welfare are engaged in illegal drug use (as evidenced by the poor results in Florida). But as usual, they pick and chooses which, and whose rights to defend, and which and whose to violate.
And, for the record- Floridas program caught a whopping 2% of applicants testing positive.