Should People on Social Assistance Programs Like Welfare Be Routinely Tested for Illegal Drugs?

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The issue of welfare and those worthy of receiving it has always been a huge problem for governments. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the Governor of Michigan wants those receiving welfare and other state funded assistance programs to be using the people’s tax dollars on the things they need to survive and function, instead of drugs. Of course, for the most part, people receiving such benefits are down on their luck and are living so far below the poverty line that drugs may seem something like a vacation away from their lives, lives spent worrying about what the future will hold and how to potentially raise kids or take care of themselves in general. While an addiction to drugs can affect just about anyone, the poor are often the hardest hit, and while it’s understandable that a state government would want to see it’s money go to those most in need, it could become a very cruel exercise if they do decided to crack down on welfare recipients who test positively for drugs on routine analysis.

Sponsored by state Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, the new law creates a one-year pilot program allowing the Michigan Department of Human Services to conduct “suspicion-based” drug testing of Family Independence Program recipients in three yet-to-be designated counties.“This commonsense reform will ensure that only the neediest and law-abiding citizens receive aid in the form of our hard-earned tax dollars,” Hune said in a statement.

In this case in Michigan, however, the Governor seems to have welfare recipients best interests at heart. Especially for those people who fail their first government sponsored drug test, who wont be kicked off of welfare in the beginning, but will instead be sent to a community mental health services facility if they do in fact test positive. This approach could in fact have a very powerful impact on the lives of those using their benefit money to buy drugs. If you think about it, if they receive the mental health care and the drug rehabilitation they need, they will no longer be spending a large portion of their welfare benefits on things like street drugs and alcohol and can therefore manage their money better and can better take care of themselves and their children. Not to mention the fact that they will be at a much lower risk of developing drug and alcohol related illnesses, and they wont be facing criminal charges either which could seriously hamper their chances of getting off social assistance and attaining an education and a decent job.

Critics of the program, however, have to have their say, and the following excerpt voice some of their concerns:

Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union and some Democratic legislators have said the new public acts create unfair stereotypes. they also said the acts single out Michigan’s poorest residents while creating no such requirements for those who receive other forms of state benefits, including tax breaks.

There are points to be offered to both sides of the debate, and I certainly can’t decide which “side” I’m on, but perhaps you have an opinion on the subject? If so please feel free to voice your concerns, arguments and opinions!



Should People on Social Assistance Programs Like Welfare Be Routinely Tested for Illegal Drugs?