People tend to have their own explanations in mind when trying to guess why certain social phenomenon happens.
When passing the bill to test welfare recipients for drug abuse, North carolina’s lawmakers also had their own theories.
Even though it was vetoed by Governor Pat McCrory, the bill was enacted in 2013 when the Republicans overrode the veto and assigned funding.
It seemed as though they were assuming that there was a connection between poverty and drug use.
As a result, people criticized the requirement, which resulted in a year delay in implementation. However, after a year, people began to be tested for the state’s Work First program in North Carolina.
In order to qualify for the state’s Work First program, a program that provides financial benefits, job training, and help finding work to those in need, applicants had to be screened and tested for drug abuse. If they were tested positive, they would not be getting the financial benefits from the program, and would have to pay $55 for the administration of the drug test.
The results surprised a lot of people.
From the 7,600 recipients and applicants given an initial screening, social workers referred only 2% for drug testing. Of those 2%, which amounted to 89 people, 21 people tested positive for drugs.
That’s less than 0.3% of the total number of those screened.
Similar to this requirement in North Carolina, drug testing poor people has become popular with Republican controlled legislatures. At least 13 states now have drug testing or screening for applicants or recipients of public assistance.
Whereas some people argue that the test is irrational and costly, others argue that it is a necessary step. For instance, Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson in Texas defends such testing requirement by saying that “we have a responsibility to ensure that these funds are not being used to support a person’s drug habit.”
What do you think? Do you think the applicants and recipients of the government welfare programs should be required to take drug-tests?
Watch the video below to hear more about the drug test results in North Carolina: