Millions of people in the United States depend on the government for assistance with food and medical coverage for themselves and their families. In recent years, there has been a call from conservative politicians for recipients of welfare to undergo drug testing to qualify for heir benefits. The thought process is, if the people receiving welfare have enough money to pay for drugs, they should have enough to pay for food and other necessities. This philosophy is being tested out in select states in the nation such as Montana and Colorado.
In Montana, a bill has been proposed to test welfare recipients who have a history of drug abuse. The bill, House Bill 200, will require for applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to fill out a questionnaire indicating if they have a history of drug abuse. That applicant would then have to take a drug test if the reviewer of the application deemed they had a drug problem. A positive test would mean that the applicant would submit to a 30-day treatment program in order to receive assistance. If someone refuses to fill out the questionnaire, they will be refused assistance.
A similar program has been proposed in El Paso County, Colorado. In this scenario, welfare recipients will be tested if they are under the suspicion of using drugs. The Department of Human Services there says that the department’s main goal is to help people find housing and jobs and drug testing will help them to identify those in the program who need help.
Should the government test people for drugs in order to receive welfare? Is that the government’s place?