Should We Drug Test Welfare Recipients?

There has been much debate recently, especially over the last year, whether or not recipients of welfare programs in the United States should be subjected to drug testing in order to receive their benefits. It is very easy to see how this is such a controversial topic, as taxpayers carry the burden of the program and they want to make sure their money is not being used for certain behaviors. But before you make your mind up on this matter, check out some of these statistics from Florida, a state that actually had a drug testing policy in place for welfare recipients, and has since canceled the drug testing.

Out of all of the Florida welfare recipients who were drug tested during the drug testing requirement, they found that 96% were completely drug free. Only 2% came back positive. Additionally, 2% said they would not test. This means that the highest possible amount of welfare recipients that would have tested positive for drugs was 4%. [1]

Drug Test


Based on the average Florida resident, can you guess what the average rate of drug use was during this same period of time?

The average rate of illicit drug use for all Florida residents was 7-7.7%. Yes, you read that correctly. Florida as a whole, and the country (8.1%) for that matter, has a higher percentage of drug users than people on welfare. [2]

Florida actually stopped the drug testing program because they lost a lot of money during the time they implemented the program ($30 per test)[1], due to the extremely low percentage of drug users.
Drugs are a problem anywhere we look, but it seems that when it comes to welfare recipients and drug use, there is maybe a little bit of an exaggeration on this issue. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but to me, it seems that there is no sense in drug testing welfare recipients when such a low percentage of recipients tested positive for drugs in live implementation programs and the cost would actually increase the burden on taxpayers. In addition to this, it is somewhat interesting that people go out of their way to give money to the panhandler with signs that read something like “Why lie? I need a beer,” but we have a problem paying taxes to feed welfare recipients who MIGHT be using drugs.