Random drug screening involves experimental analysis by utilizing such specimens as saliva, hair, blood, or urine, with a view to determining the presence of certain drugs or their metabolites. These tests are usually done to ascertain the presence (or absence) of prohibited drugs or steroids. On the other hand, state welfare assistance/ government assistance is a government-funded program that was started in 1930 at a time when US citizens and the rest of the world were facing a great depression (Welfare Information, par.1). This program was meant to assist individuals with little or no income. Based on the foregoing argument, there is a need to explore whether people utilizing government assistance should be subjected to random drug screening.
For a person to be eligible for the U.S. welfare aid, the program managers must determine the number of factors such as an individual’s gross and net income, the size of the family, emergency medical requirements, and unemployment, among other factors (Welfare Information par.2). These welfare benefits range from food stamps, child care support, health-care aid, to cash aid among others. The federal government avails these services to its needy citizens through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. On the other hand, the federal government obtains the TANF funds from the Central government in order to run the program. The only current restriction imposed on those receiving welfare aid is that those who are unemployed must be able to secure a job within the next two years after the commencement of the assistance program. This also affects the single parents who should work for at least thirty hours per week (Welfare Information par.4).
After sixty-one years of existence, many Americans have started to raise concerns about the eligibility conditions that are in place for those receiving the welfare aids currently. Many feel that some individuals are failing to apply for jobs in order to be assisted while others are having many kids so that they could receive a huge share. Moreover, other people argue that some individuals are staying out of marriages so that they can be assisted. Keeping these sentiments in mind, it is imperative that the random screening exercise be considered as a requirement for those seeking to be assisted through the state welfare assistance program.
Random Drug Testing
This is not a new technique as it has been around for some time though in a different setting. Currently, most Americans working in either the private or the public sector must undergo a urinalysis test in order to keep their present jobs or get a new one (The Lectric Law Library par.2). This test is carried out in order to assess whether the worker is using drugs in order to evaluate the job performance of that particular worker. However, this exercise has faced a number of obstacles particularly lawsuits that have seen many federal courts rule out these practices in the workplaces. They are considered unconstitutional except when there is a reasonable suspicion on a particular individual who can then be forced to undertake the tests. Despite these obstacles, many people believe that employers have a right to assess the performance of their employers in order to safeguard their investments. Moreover, innocent employees need not worry if they have nothing to hide about their personal lives since the tests do not pose any life-threatening experiences (The Lectric Law Library par.10).
Michigan is credited as being the only state which has tried this regulation by imposing random drug screening for those individuals who wish to apply for welfare assistance. Unfortunately, the regulation was ruled out as being unconstitutional in 2003 (ACLU par.7). The opponents of this regulation argue that it violates the provisions of the laws that protect individuals against unauthorized and unreasonable searches. Subsequently, about forty-nine other states rejected the regulation in their respective jurisdictions citing it as being unconstitutional while others considered the cost implications of enacting the program (ACLU par.10).
But considering the fact that there are some individuals in the society who could be using unemployment as a reason enough for them to be given the welfare aid in order to finance their drug addiction behaviors, there is a need to consider enacting this regulation in order to safeguard the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. In some cases, some individuals can utilize the opportunity in their efforts to get out of the economic recession. In response to these observations, about eight legislatures from different states were of the idea that the persons receiving food stamps and unemployment aid be subject to mandatory random drug screening procedures in order to be eligible for further welfare aid or termination in case the results turn out to be positive (Associated Press par.1).
The proponents of this move argue that the regulation will enable their constituents to sustain their financial needs after the economic recession in addition to discouraging the drug users who depend on welfare aid to finance their drug addiction behaviors. Other states also share the same position but with some modesty. For instance, the Kansas House of Representatives imposes random drug testing regulations on all persons receiving cash aid from the state. Other states with varying regulations include Oklahoma, Missouri, Hawaii, Florida, and Minnesota. Arguing in favor of this move, the representative from the state of Utah stated that the regulation helps in reducing the Nation’s drug addiction rate. This is in addition to saving the state millions of dollars in terms of financial debt (Canham Par.1). The move is also aimed at making people responsible and productive members of society. Since the main goal of welfare assistance is to get more people back to work, others may fail to do so if they are guilty of drug abuse.
Given that this move will help in saving taxpayers money that goes into the hands of some undeserving individuals, the ultimate goal of this move is positive. Moreover, it has been shown that the move will enable many states to ease their budget and thus reduce the nation’s debts. Besides, people will quit their addiction lifestyles and become responsible and productive members of society. However, opponents of this move argue that the random testing procedures are scientifically unsound. It is argued that these methods cannot test for a specific kind of drug substance. Besides, studies have indicated that there is no significant difference between the number of persons doing drugs who are not receiving welfare aids and their counterparts who are receiving the welfare benefits (ACLU par.8). Additionally, the opponents argue that the move is unconstitutional as many courts in many states have ruled it out as being against the provisions that protect individuals against unreasonable searches. Despite these arguments being realistic, one ought to realize that the social and national benefits of the move will be immense and more than the perceived social threats. Therefore, it is ethical for as many states as possible to enact the regulation for the benefit of most of their constituents.
The essay entails an in-depth account of the benefits of enacting regulations for the random drug testing of public assistance recipients as a condition of eligibility. This is a practice that has been in existence for quite some time, though not within the state welfare assistance program. Embracing this regulation will then imply that more people will be forced to forego their drug addiction behaviors while many states will ease on their budgets and thereby reduce the nation’s debt. Moreover, many will become responsible and productive members of society and as a result, less worried about having to work for other members of society.
“ACLU.” Drug Law Reform: drug testing of public assistance recipients as a condition of eligibility. New York: American Civil Liberties Union, 2008. Web.
Associated Press. Want to go on welfare? Just say no to drugs: lawmakers in some states want recipients to submit to random testing, 2009. Web.
Canham, Matt. Hatch wants drug testing for people on assistance. Canada: Cannabis culture magazine, 2010. Web.
The Lectric law library. ACLU briefing Paper Number 5. Lectlaw.com, 1995. Web.
“Welfare Information.” US welfare system: help for US citizens. WelfareInfo.org, 2010. Web.