Tennessee Drug Tests Welfare Recipients; Finds Just One Person Using Drugs
The state tested 812 people in July and only one person tested positive. That means less than 1%.
In the month since it began, six people submitted to a drug test and just one tested positive out of the 812 people who applied. Four were turned down for benefits because they refused to participate in drug screening. That means a positive rate of 0.12 percent for those who took part in the screening. That compares to the 8 percent of state residents generally who use illegal drugs.
Despite stereotypes that the poor people who need welfare assistance use drugs at a high rate, other states have had similar results. In Utah, just 12 people tested positive in a year of drug testing applicants. In Florida, 2 percent of applicants failed the tests in 2011 but the state has an 8 percent rate of illegal drug use.
And when Maine’s governor set out to prove that welfare recipients in his state were using their benefits to buy drinks and cigarettes at bars and strip clubs, he turned up next to nothing.
Fiscal conservatives ought to have a word with their governors in states where this is being done.
Utah spent more than $30,000 in the year that turned up just 12 drug users. The purported savings in Florida’s program will be negligible after administrative costs and reimbursements for the drug tests are taken into account. The $1.5 million price tag with just $229,000 in savings for a proposed program in Virginia prompted lawmakers to reject it.