FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Twenty-seven U.S. states, as red as Arizona and Georgia and as blue as New York and California, may soon be adding another requirement for those applying for aid such as unemployment or welfare: Being clean.
More than half the states in this country are considering legislation that would require recipients of public assistance to pass a drug test before getting their handout from the government.
The details vary from state to state, of course.
A bill in the South Carolina state senate, for example, would suspend unemployment checks to any person who didn't get a job because of a failed drug test. A measure in Arizona would call for random drug testing for all people who receive welfare. In Massachusetts, a bill has been introduced requiring random drug tests for recipients of public assistance who have prior drug convictions. If you fail the drug test, you would be placed by the state into a rehab program because of the state's mandatory health care program.
Of course, if these measures pass, they will likely be opposed by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that "suspicionless searches," like many drug tests, violate Fourth Amendment rights, unless those tests are conducted for specific reasons like public safety.
On the other hand, I don't want my tax money being used to buy illegal drugs. And that seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Here’s my question to you: Should states require drug tests in exchange for public assistance?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Paul in Ohio:
Jack, absolutely! If folks aren't willing to prove they are helping themselves, why should the taxpayer help them afford a drug habit? If these folks want privacy, then they should do it without public assistance.
Layne in Antioch, Illinois:
I believe Tommy Thompson, the past Governor of Wisconsin, did it as well as requiring that a recipient perform a certain amount of hours of public service. From what I remember, it worked really well, and actually dropped the number of people on welfare significantly.
Completely unreasonable given the unreliability of drug tests. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs show up as a false positives for illegal drugs. Imagine how you would feel to be taking a prescribed drug and then forced to go into rehab or being barred from benefits because of a false positive.
Devonne in Houston, Texas:
I am "required" to get a drug test in order to get and hold my job for which I receive pay. If you wish to receive your pay from the government, you should have to submit to drug testing as well. Get off the drug-induced stupor and take care of business; whether kids, school, etc. The cost of the test will be paid by the funds that are not distributed.
Absolutely. If the state is going to provide assistance, the person getting it should not be using it to buy drugs or provide money to someone else in the family to buy drugs.
I don't want my tax money to be spent on drugs either, but Jack, how much money will be spent on the tests, legal action, and administration of these laws?
Loren in Chicago, Illinois:
This is a terrible question because it says so much about us as people. But, the hard fact is that people on public assistance are there for a reason and substance abuse is frequently a cause. There is a public compact here and we need to decide whether this type of asocial behavior should be a bar to receiving the support of our community.