Drug testing welfare rolls not productive

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — We are fortunate to live in a country where there is plenty of help for those who are down on their luck.

Through publicly-funded programs, non-profits and churches, our communities provide a wide range of “safety net” services for those who are struggling with poverty, joblessness, disabilities or other challenges. Most of us support these efforts with our tax dollars and often our private contributions.

But nothing is more upsetting than to hear about people taking advantage of that generosity – the person who trades food stamps for beer or “games” the system to get benefits they do not deserve.

That is the very understandable emotion driving the proposals to drug test those receiving public assistance.

There are many forms of public assistance from various state and federal programs, but since federal welfare reform in 1996, most of the legislation has focused on drug testing as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Although the provisions vary, 12 states have passed legislation allowing some form of screening or testing based on suspicions of substance abuse or illegal drug activity. Lawmakers in West Virginia are debating the idea, too.

But so far, the results from other states are not very promising…

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