Almost 1,600 Welfare Applicants in Florida Decline to Undergo Drug Testing

Almost 1,600 people applying for welfare benefits in Florida have declined to undergo drug testing, which is required by a new state law. According to state officials, less than one percent of the 7,028 welfare applicants who underwent screening tested positive for drugs since the law went into effect in July.

Since so many applicants refused to take a drug test, it is difficult to draw conclusions from these findings, according to the Associated Press. A majority of positive drug tests were for marijuana.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to challenge the new law. The lawsuit asserts the law’s drug-testing requirement represents an unconstitutional search and seizure.

The Florida law requires applicants to be responsible for the cost of the screening. They can recover the costs if they qualify for assistance. Under the law, applicants who fail the drug screen can designate another person to receive the benefits on behalf of their children. That person must also undergo drug testing.

According to the article, a person who fails the drug test is not eligible for welfare for one year. Passing a drug course can cut that time down to six months. A person who fails a second drug test is ineligible for benefits for three years.

Supporters of the law say it prevents taxpayer money from being spent on drugs. Critics say the cost of the test—$25 to $35—may be too high for some applicants, or they may not be able to easily get to a testing facility.

Florida is one of a growing number of states requiring drug testing for recipients of welfare, food stamps, unemployment and other benefits. Legislators in three dozen states have proposed drug testing this year for people who receive welfare benefits.

33 Responses

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    Reaper

    December 17, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    I think this should be required for any government official connected with enforcing the “War on Drugs! Congress, police, judges, prosecuting attorneys, jailers…. Before taking away anyone’s food stamps

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    Lyn honey

    February 3, 2017 at 8:21 PM

    Drug screening really only singles out pot smokers, all the bad drugs are out of your system in days, most if them can stop for a few days for a free check, it is ineffective and costs more than its worth, they would have to show up at these people’s houses at random unexpected times for a screening, seems crazy expensive

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    Lester

    February 29, 2016 at 5:16 AM

    This is not the government testing applicants for drugs, rather it is demanded by the taxpayers of Florida who are sick and tired of paying high taxes and supporting parasites! We don’t want to support people who don’t want to work, have multiple children out of wedlock and take drugs rather than contribute to society. They should be penalized, not the good people who work hard and own homes! ACLU, Obama, and democrats be damned. We don’t want to support them any longer and we are the ones in charge of how our tax dollars are spent, not the liberal-progressive social do-gooders! The welfare-state must end in America and it is we taxpayers/homeowners who will vote to end it. President Trump will help us, and America will be great again! If anyone wants a hand-out of our hard earned taxes, they need to prove they aren’t spending our money on drugs and alcohol! We demand this! It is our money, not theirs!

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    Steve

    October 16, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    If we’re going to require people receiving government money to take regular drug tests, fine. But let’s require it for ALL those receiving government money — including those holding public office — the governor, legislators, etc. Let’s face it — a political office holder on drugs can do a whole lot more damage than some singly mom on welfare.

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    Carl

    May 22, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Looks like the data is being distorted. If 1600 declined to take the test (per the AAP below) , the odds are that they took drugs. Also, 2.6% of
    those that took the test failed (182). So,

    That means to me that (1600+182)/(1600+7028 ) –= 20.65% most likely took drugs/failed the test. Then again, we really dont know why the 1600 refused to taske the test.

    NY TIMES:
    In a four-month period last year when Florida required welfare applicants to undergo drug testing, the program yielded no savings, caught few
    drug users, and did not affect the number of people who applied, The New York Times reports.
    The program was halted after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sued the state to stop it. The group obtained state data that
    showed from July through October 2011, 2.6 percent of welfare applicants failed the drug test, and an additional 40 people did not take the test.
    Applicants paid the cost of the test, an average of $30. If they passed, the state reimbursed them. The cost to Florida was $118,140 for drug
    tests—more than would have been paid out in benefits to those who failed the test, according to Derek Newton, Communications Director for
    the ACLU of Florida. He said the testing cost the government an additional $45,780.
    Georgia instituted a similar law this week. It is expected to face legal challenges. A number of other states are considering similar measures,
    according to the newspaper.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Almost 1,600 people applying for welfare benefits in Florida have declined to undergo drug testing, which is required by a new state law.
    According to state officials, less than one percent of the 7,028 welfare applicants who underwent screening tested positive for drugs since the
    law went into effect in July.
    Since so many applicants refused to take a drug test, it is difficult to draw conclusions from these findings, according to the Associated Press. A
    majority of positive drug tests were for marijuana.
    The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to challenge the new law. The lawsuit asserts the law’s drug-testing requirement
    represents an unconstitutional search and seizure.
    The Florida law requires applicants to be responsible for the cost of the screening. They can recover the costs if they qualify for assistance.
    Under the law, applicants who fail the drug screen can designate another person to receive the benefits on behalf of their children. That person
    must also undergo drug testing.
    According to the article, a person who fails the drug test is not eligible for welfare for one year. Passing a drug course can cut that time down to
    six months. A person who fails a second drug test is ineligible for benefits for three years.
    Supporters of the law say it prevents taxpayer money from being spent on drugs. Critics say the cost of the test—$25 to $35—may be too high for
    some applicants, or they may not be able to easily get to a testing facility.

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