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Drug Testing Welfare Recipients – Pros and Cons

The Pros and Cons of Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

There is quite a bit of controversy out there relating to drug tests for welfare recipients. Understanding both the pros and the cons of it means that there is no black and white answer when it comes to the best solution. Some states have had these programs in place and they suffered greatly trying to implement them. Others are still considering the option, but the law isn’t always on their side.

Florida, for one state, has implemented drug testing of students, which has proven to be another boondoggle.


It is possible that the risk of losing welfare benefits would result in fewer people using drugs. If they have the money to pay for drugs they should have money to pay for their own living expenses is often the way of thinking on this one.

A positive drug test for someone receiving welfare can be the first step to them getting help. With this line of intervention it can mean that the person is able to get the counseling and substance abuse help that they need in order to turn their life around.

In some states, recipients of welfare funds have already taken the programs to court. They feel their rights have been violated. In some states, the ruling has come back that these mandatory drug tests are unconstitutional.


Many people worry that taking away the welfare benefits due to an adult failing a drug test only makes that household suffer more poverty. It can mean children in that household aren’t going to get their basic needs met. It can also mean the adults turn to illegal activities in order to pay for their drug habits.

It can be very expensive to implement successful drug testing programs for welfare recipients. The program has to determine who will be tested and when they will be tested. Will it be random or will it be on a regular basis? What type of testing will be done and what will the collection process be? What will the repercussions be for someone that refuses to be tested? There are plenty of issues that have to be addressed for the program.

Funding is a serious barrier to these types of programs. In order for the funding to be there, taxpayers would have to agree to paying more than they already do. When you add in the cost for counseling and rehab it can really add up to a great deal of cash that these states just don’t have right now to realistically make such a program work.

Which Leads Us Here

Only time will tell if the issue of drug testing welfare recipients becomes the norm or not. Many of the taxpayers are all for this process, though. Their way of thinking is that if they should have to comply with drug testing to work, shouldn’t those that get their money for free also have to do so? There are plenty of advocates on both sides of this issue. There aren’t any easy answers and the lack of funding for such programs continues to be at the core of all of it.

Which could lead one to ponder about what kind of logic leads to these short-sighted laws.  Some might think the obvious answer might be politicians pandering to an uninformed constituency.


Who benefits from all of this?

The lawyers win, for one group.  They will keep the courts clogged up for the foreseeable future. The testing labs will surely benefit, as well.

Another group, that flies low under the radar, is the industry that sells solutions designed to get somebody a passing grade on the drug test.  Manipulating the results of a drug test is not as easy as it once was.  The industry offers various methods or processes to thwart detection.  They should see an uptick in their business in states where welfare recipients are being tested.

Who Loses

The folks being tested and their families lose, for one.  The folks who might grow a little pot on their own, at no cost, lose too.  An argument can be made that it’s no one’s business if someone smokes a little home-grown in their own house on a Wednesday night.  Two weeks later when they fail a drug screen and lose their benefits because of their smoking some weed two weeks ago –everything changes.  Whose business is it?

Ultimately, that uninformed constituency loses as taxpayers, as do the rest of us whose towns and cities are crumbling; and, whose states’ budgets are already bloated.

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