The 2010 unemployment extension bill has Senator Hatch suggesting an amendment of drug testing to be added. He would like to drug test the people who are collecting the benefits. Before Hatch made this suggestion “to save money”, he should have done a little research to see if it was ever tried before and he will find out that it has indeed been tried out. It was not only done but was not successful at all, according to the Huffington Post.
Michigan tested the same theory that Senator Hatch is suggesting today. If you drug test the people on public assistance and deny them claims if they test positive, you will save money. Ten years ago Michigan put in place a mandatory testing for drugs in three welfare offices. Out of 258 new and continuing applicants tested, 21 tested positive for illicit substances. All but three of these people were tested positive for marijuana only. In other words, three people did the hard core drugs and 18 did marijuana which is now legal in some states for medical use.
The drug testing experiment did not catch many people at all doing drugs and why would the outcome be any different today? The amount of money the drug testing component would cost nationwide is going to cost much more than the money possibly saved by denying a positive drug tester their money. One state has been there and done that and it did not work.
Drug testing is not the answer. Senator Hatch assures everyone this is not a “punishment” but a service to find people and get them into treatment. This is not the population that you will “catch” vast amount of drug users in. The trial in Michigan backs up my statements. The unemployed have worked and accumulated money and time to be found eligible to collect unemployment. These are not the people that hang out on street corners and basements doing drugs all day. Their work history is the evidence to this.
If Senator Hatch really wants to help the “drug abusers”, consult with addictions specialist and create a program that will work. The failure of the Michigan test should be enough for the government not to earmark money for another such project. It is bound to fail again.
Give the hard working American public who are unemployed their unemployment extension because they have earned it. They have paid into it and should not have to jump through hopes to get the money from the unemployment extension. Drug testing for the unemployed will not only be a waste of money, but it will be degrading to the unemployed who are in the situation through no fault of their own. Testing for drugs on the unemployment is demeaning and worthless.
References: Huffington Post