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Untitled Document

Welfare Drug Testing

Drug testing for welfare programs has been a controversial topic throughout the United States, and it also raises controversy among US politicians as well as welfare recipients. The idea of welfare drug testing is one that lawmakers are constantly in a debate over.

Here we discuss what a mandated drug test for welfare would look like, and some of the potential consequences of such policies on those subjected to these tests. The goal, in the end, is to look beyond the surface, putting emotional, impulsive reactions aside to take a closer look at the impact of drug testing to the less fortunate as a whole.

The Issue Clouding Drug Test Welfare Programs

When people are considering this issue, they often react in one of two ways. The first opinion in the public view is that drug testing for welfare benefits is hypocritical and cruel, and the people who tend to feel this way believe that drug policies such as the one in question is too harsh and designed to inflict hurt on those who are already living below the poverty level.

On the flip side of the coin, there are those who are in favor of such a policy and believe that if a welfare recipient is to receive some of their tax money, then recipients should have no problem with taking a drug test. The people who tend to feel this way often strongly believe that the funds received are going for unnecessary items or being used for detrimental purposes. Additionally, some claim that drug testing welfare recipients is justified because recipients can use the money to buy alcohol, drugs, and other nonessential goods.

Both of these arguments have some valid points. However, neither of these polarized views address the actual direct costs of such welfare drug testing policies, or the practicality and benefits.

Drug Testing Welfare Recipient Statistics

According to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the statistics for 2018 cost 13 states over $200,000 for welfare drug testing. (TANF is a program designed to assist families with children on a time-limited basis, funded by the federal government with grants to states.)

What’s even more shocking is that only 338 welfare recipients tested positive for drugs. This number is small in comparison to the 52.2 million people who are receiving welfare benefits in the United States, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

2018 Statistics for the 13 States’ Drug Screening for Welfare Programs

As reported by ThinkProgress
State / Positive Tests / Cost to Tax Payers

  • Alabama / 0 / $74.00
  • Arkansas / 2 / $14,985.00
  • Arizona / 0 / $0.00
  • Kansas / 56 / $46,448.00
  • Maine / 41 / $2,542.00
  • Missouri / 4 / $14,772
  • Montana / 14 / $14,772.00
  • Mississippi / 16 / $8,127.00
  • North Carolina / 17 / $16,280.00
  • Oklahoma / 83 / $52,508.00
  • Tennessee / 18 / $8,783.00
  • Utah / 31 / $20,666.00
  • Wisconsin / 1 / $1,500.00
  • West Virginia / 69 / $15,391

In total, the 13 states subjected more than 260,000 welfare recipients to drug screening as a condition of receiving TANF welfare. The results shocked certain opponents because in some states, not one recipient tested positive for drug use.

Universal drug testing for welfare was ruled unconstitutional in 2014, and the 13 states in question are now required to have “reasonable suspicion” that either an applicant or recipient is under the influence of drugs before a drug test can be conducted. The 1996 welfare law banned states from providing financial assistance to individuals who either fail a TANF drug test or those who refused to take one. Recipients who fail a drug test can also be disqualified from receiving future benefits.

What Does the TANF Drug Test Look Like?

Most welfare recipients receiving a TANF drug test are generally given a 4-panel urinalyses test, which can detect common drugs like cocaine, THC, PCP, and opiates. However, they can also test for Ecstasy, Oxycodone, Benzodiazepines, and Methodone. This all depends on what the state law is for testing, and some drug tests include 10 panels that can detect up to ten substances.

Other recipients may experience what is known as a mouth swab drug test (MSDT) or saliva test where samples of saliva are taken with a cotton swab and sent to the laboratory for testing. The implementation of the MSDT is gaining popularity in some states due to its low cost and less invasive nature.

The more invasive drug tests such as the hair follicle test or blood test do not appear to be conducted within the TANF drug screenings policies due to their invasive nature and violation of the recipient’s Constitutional Rights set forth in the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The Conclusion on TANF Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

Although there are no clear definitions on which drugs can be tested in different panel tests, experts in science and chemistry have recommended the types of drugs that should be in each state’s panel. For those who are concerned about failing a TANF drug test, the stakes can be devastating, especially for single mothers with young children and infants. Fortunately, our experts in adulterants have manufactured solutions to pass any drug test. For more information on how to obtain one of our detox kits or guaranteed cleansing solutions, click here.