This week Republican candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that the federal government drug test recipients of government aide. Gingrich spoke to Yahoo’s Chris Moody, stating that “It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid. Unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it.”
He also recommended that by ending government benefits to drug abusers, would benefit them more efficiently than placing these people in jail. “It has always struck me that if you’re serious about trying to stop drug use, then you need to find a way to have a fairly easy approach to it and you need to find a way to be pretty aggressive about insisting — I don’t think actually locking up users is a very good thing,” he said. “I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long-term policy.”
This idea for drug testing recipients of welfare has been a popular trend lately. It began in Florida this summer when that state began the drug testing program. Recipients had to pass a urine drug test to prove that they were drug free. Although the program has now been on hold since November when a federal judge stopped it, due to a lawsuit from a 35 year old single father, who felt it violated his constitutional rights.
During this drug testing period in Florida 2.5 percent of applicants failed the mandatory drug test, which is actually a lower rate than what the general population tested for. If a failed drug test occurs the applicant has to pay for the drug test while applicants who pass are reimbursed for the test. This could be a waste of money since such a low percent of applicants have not been able to pass it. Therefore the state of Florida is spending more money for passed drug tests.