The Flaw in Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

Drug testing of welfare recipients was recently signed into law by Missouri Governor Nixon. While no one wants tax payer money being spent on purchasing illegal drugs, it is very disheartening to focus this kind enforcement on just the poor. What about legislators, farmers, state workers, doctors, hospitals, nurses, teachers, social workers, and businesses who receive tax credits who also receive state money – why not drug test them? The answer is very simple—they have enough political clout to keep this from happening. Unfortunately poor people don’t have enough political clout. If this was about just protecting tax payer money – more people would be targeted for drug testing than just the poor.

Many folks who supported this legislation are of the mindset that we need less government in our daily lives. However, they make the exception when it comes to making poor folks adhere to rules that they are not willing to apply to themselves.

I predict that this legislation will cost more money than it saves. The legislation will have legal challenges and the new law will not be administered in a uniform manner because of how the legislation is written. No one knows how many folks on welfare use illegal drugs and it is uncertain if there are enough drug treatment programs to handle poor folks who are referred for treatment.

I am sure that many legislators who support this legislation did so because they thought they were protecting tax payers from abuse. But my fear is that this is simply another attempt to reduce the number of folks who receive public assistance. If legislators truly want to reduce misuse of government funds, focus your legislation on folks who are receiving big checks from the state and not limit this legislation on folks who on the average are taking home $230 per month in TANF benefits per family.


The recipients who test positive for drug use should be required to undergo recovery treatment and have their benefits suspended until completion. That would ensure tax dollars being better spent on a more effective deterrent. I can bet that most would not want the hassle and delay of payments. There are Addiction Recovery Guides for anyone looking for information on addiction recovery and intervention.

I can not believe that drugs can have positive effects, I only heard about the negative effects of drugs and the lives destroyed because of them. I even know some people who have rebuilt their lives at drug rehab San Diego and they don't ever want to start using drugs.

THanks for the blog Steve. When do you think this country will stop preying on the poor? It is absolutly sick that Missouri leads the country in this effort.

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.



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