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March 31st, 2009
09:05 AM ET

Drug testing for benefits

Lawmakers want food stamps and unemployment recipients to take random drug tests. CNN's Christine Romans reports.
Lawmakers want food stamps and unemployment recipients to take random drug tests. CNN's Christine Romans reports.

Everyone has heard about a random drug test to get your job.

How about a drug test to get an unemployment check?

A urine test for food stamps?

The number of Americans collecting jobless checks is at a record, and lawmakers in a number of states want to tie some strings to those benefits.


What do you think? Is this a good idea?

Filed under: Business
soundoff (867 Responses)
  1. Guy

    absolutely, it isn't even a matter of taxpayer money being spent, it a moral issue. why should we allow those who neglect the need for proper living conditions for them and their family to gain more money to buy more drugs with. drug abuse is not a cliched subject, if you are on drugs you aren't using any money correctly and you are addicted. if they really need their money, they will sober up and get tested. for those who do not do drugs but do need unemployment checks, a drug test is only embarrassing if you fail it, so deal with it.

    March 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Rosalie Dieteman

    Look at your paycheck stub. You're paying an Unemployment Tax. So does your employer.

    That money goes to pay your unemployment benefits when you're unemployed. Sort of an enforced savings account.

    So why do you need to pass a urine test to get your own money back?

    March 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  3. vince

    I think this is a good thing but it should not be used to prosecute people or shared with others. The testing should be for current drug use and not previous use, if someone used before and got clean then they should qualify for benefits. the results shoudl also not be used against them in other ways.

    March 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Sheena

    Yes they most certainly should, why wasnt this thought of before, lot of the money that is suppose to go to their children probably goes to drugs, the money if pulled from recipients that use, could be used to care for their children elsewhere. Also, for unemployment, you are drug tested for a job, what is the difference here, unemployment is an extension from your workplace.
    This can stop lots of abuse to the system that is taking millions of taxpayers money.

    March 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  5. jmz

    i wouldnt call it obtuse persay. ui is becomming a problem too. i have seen so many people outof work /loosing jobs who will say.."oh ill just ride ui for a bit" or if it runs out demand extentions as if it is a right. thats where the prob is. instead of people saving for a rainy day or being smary in lookin for a job they rely too much on ui. all these entitlement programs we have are bankrupt..including ui. yet not only do we foolishly believe they work, and want more, but we have now deluded ourselves into believing they are a right. this is where it is like welfare. ll these programs were designed to help a few people in the short term, not replace jobs, hard work or retirement. we are trying to figure out how to pay for socsec when the boomers begin getting it. all the money they put into it is gone. now we gotta pay. and now we think its a good idea to install another beureucratic govt controlled entitlement that noone knows how much, or even care. i have to say that i would rather ui, and ALL govt controlled social entilement progs be stopped asap and let everyone fend for themselves. we need to quit being polite. when this hc abortion passes( i feel it will as they will and are doing anything to pass it) the time for voting will be past. even if we do complete turnaround in nov, the pres will never repal it and by the time it was it would be years. we need to resist abuy not paying. the tea parties now are useless. we need to be inspired by the original and break the law

    March 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  6. Debby

    Georgia requires 'Work Ready Cert.' in order to apply for a job a drug test is taken, This should not be a problem for U.I. to do as well.
    WIA and TAA should be required to do so as well on the training program. But, to call unemployment the 'new welfare' is being OBTUSE.
    Someone needs to have staff define the words 'Jobless recovery'.
    Georgia stats for February unemployment were 10.4% with an announcement of more job cuts due to the budget. Unemployment is not an option we want ,But, the lack of attention to stabilization of private business [that will offer health benefits ,income and revenue] has taken last priority to the 'Health Care bill' that we can not afford. Help America create private sector jobs and you will help the economy, Place the focus and effort placed in the Health care bill in this area and the economy will change. The public needs jobs you will see this in November elections when Americans vote the change

    March 13, 2010 at 5:34 am |
  7. Mr P

    Oh I agree with you I see this every day I work. I'll be honist with you though, I really don't care what they want! I'm tired of having my pockit picked. I think a compleat cut off of FREE benifits. These people must contribuite something or be cut OFF. This would fource them to poop or get off the pot. I really feel because we have allowed this to go on so long and because it has becon a way of life.
    A quick story from last friday. A friend of mine drives a city school bus, he picks up a first grade boy. The boy says to him "I can't wait till I don't have to go to school any more" my friend says "don't wish your life away, once you are out of school you will have to go to work" the boy says "oh no I'm going to do what my father does ....... lay on the couch all day"
    What else can I say!

    December 17, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  8. JMZ

    I agree the system needs a COMPLETE overhaul. But these people do not want that. They dont want any common sense requirements put in. They have been raised from birth to feel that they are entitled to be supported and everything should be given to them withhout hesitation or requirements. look at some of the responses I get from these people. It boils down to "gimmie gimmie gimmie" and "you owe us". I used to have so much mercy and wanted to help people. I did the same thing that you did. multiple times. and ended with the same results. The more i see the world the more i realize that the only people who say "tis better to give than recieve" all have their hands out!!!

    December 16, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  9. Mr P

    The whole welfare system needs to be rebuilt for better use and monitoring or shut down. I used to live in an area where ther were a few chronic drunks on the street and they would ask for money to buy food. Day in and day out. One day I decided to call their bluff. I said I wont give you money but i will buy you some food. Everyone of them told me no. I told them dont ever ask me for anything again if they do you'll be arrested on the spot. This is how our system should work you get what you need and nothing more and no cash ... if that doesn't work for you than you are on your own.

    December 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  10. JMZ

    Bettie: While I sympathize with your problems, it still dosent change my argument. First off the majority wanting this are not crippled like you, but just too stoned l lazy to work. and got where they are through their own choices. If you are on welfare for half you darn life and keep spunkin out kids. I do not feel sorry for you. We have medicaid for people like you. Second I am FOR the legalization of drugs. I agree the 'war on drugs' for the most part is a failure. However this does not mean I wish to PAY for your 'high'. Just as Im pro choice and do not want to pay for your abortion. And I am not just meaning drugs like coke ,heroine etc, I mean cigs and alchohol as well. When you get that money it should be for food and shelter for you(kids) ONLY!. If im busting my ass 40+ hrs a week and am struggling to make ends meet. there is NO legit reason for someone living on the govt teat to buy Drugs cigs, or alchohol. NONE. I have no choice but to pay this crap thru taxes, so now I am supposed to feel good about paying for your drugs too? Especially when I am struggling? Next As I said before paying people just so they will not rob you is extortion. The poor havent vanished with this welfare and in fact it gets even worse. Perhaps if we start removing these saftey nets that people use as a crutch, mabye people start taking better care of their lives. "The situations many of you look down on are more complicated than you realize...maybe one day you will find out firsthand..." I have. and welfare people need to understand that everytime they take one of these checks they are taking money that I work very hard for. and everytime you use that money that I GAVE you to help you get on your feet for drugs and alchohol. you are slapping me in the face and taking food out of my families mouth. Now tell me again WHY i am selfish for not letting u get high off MY dime? if you do not want me telling you how to live then DO NOT TAKE MY MONEY ! it is as simple as that.

    December 11, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  11. Bettie Wineberg

    I am on disability and food stamps. I used to be on welfare (for 3 years while waiting to get social security. And I used to use cocaine.
    I have severe arthritis, chronic severe pain, pinched nerves in my lower back and spine, and am being tested for possible multiple sclerosis (my mom had MS). My right hip, right arm and both legs are often unable to move. I would love to have a good job, but just what am I qualified to do? How many employers are looking for someone with my background and handicaps?
    I do volunteer work whenever I can – and try to make a couple of dollars here and there. But without government assistance, I'd be homeless and begging on a street corner, probably stealing food. My problems started before I tried drugs. I don't use them anymore and my health has gotten worse, not better! Without prescription help, I could not afford (prescribed) medications. So, I'd probably be using cocaine, heroin or meth instead. People who want to save money by cutting vital human services don't seem to realize that it would wind up costing society EVERYTHING. All those poor people won't vanish. They will end up living in your backyard, on your doorstep, behind the local store, camping in your woods, sleeping in brokedown cars on your street. Put 'em in jail? That costs more than welfare and diisability funding by far! Look how much The Drug War is costing – and how WELL (not!) it works. The situations many of you look down on are more complicated than you realize...maybe one day you will find out firsthand...

    December 10, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  12. D

    I see all of this first-hand. I live in a neigborhood where there is a lot of drug use and government assistance. I see people just doing what makes them feel good, whether it costs them a job or not. It has even become a fad to deliberately try to get fired so they can draw unemployment, ride around witht their thug friends, and do / sell drugs all day long while getting free housing and a paycheck. It's all a big joke to them. I see very little (if any) deserved goverment assistance in my neighborhood. Most of it (or ALL from what I can tell) is scammed out of the goverment by people who don't want to work because it's more socially acceptable (in their social circles) to "chill" all day, and "play", and deal, and gang-bang, etc..
    YES – for drug testing anyone receiving any goverment benefits- or even driver's licenses!

    November 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  13. jessie

    yes.. I believe its a great idea. Pretty much all employer require random drug testing for their employees to work and received a paycheck and if you are receiving government benefits and want a pay check then you should get drug tested too. I think they are getting off easy, since they get the option to retest, when every other working individual would be fired. I think items can be put in place where if they admit they have a problem , the some sort of drug treatment could be given but they would have to admit this before they fail the test. It would definitely help to clear out the ones who are abusing the benefits , so it would leave more for those who need them.

    October 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  14. JMZ

    Marsupio said"Wow! You guys should stop whinning about where the tax money goes. We are here to help eachother! If they take the “handouts” away the “drugies” will find their way to get their drugs. More crime! Smart idea!"

    Uhh yeah it is a smart idea...HELLO! so your whole argument is basically we should pay these LOOSERS so they dont rob us? really? and stop with the whole alchohol and weed argument. alchohol/cigs are legal...weed is NOT PERIOD! this isnt a debate on wheter or not weed should be legal( i think so) this is a debate on the american taxpayer paying for your fix. i dnt care if it is weed, cigs, beer wine etc. as a hard working taxpayer i do not want to pay for your drung use. why is that so hard for people like you to understand? why dont you get the fact that you are crying about not having money for food, and that we should cover you. but you abuse that by using the money we are giving you to support yourself and kids for food and shelter by getting high and drunk and then whine how mean we are when we say no more. personally people like you are the reason i think ALL social programs should be stopped. because it goes from a temporary hand up to a perm hand out. if you want to get high and drunk go for it, but dont expect me to pay for it like you have a right to do it. pay for it yourself. my money my rules and i can change them anytime i feel. dont like that get a job and pay for your own life

    October 1, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  15. Marsupio

    Wow! You guys should stop whinning about where the tax money goes. We are here to help eachother! If they take the "handouts" away the "drugies" will find their way to get their drugs. More crime! Smart idea! And why does everyone mention marijuana instead of the real drugs? Alcohol is worse then weed, there's a reason why it was illegal back in the days. Cigarretes? It causes cancer! Hmm, weed? There's a reason why God put it on earth for us. You people are all messed up in the head!!!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  16. Roy

    We don't have anyone in Congress with the backbone to even suggest such a program, although it would be a great new approach to get those receiving welfare off of drugs.

    Drug addiction is a disease, now that's real smart. Maybe Obama's health care plan will treat them as we now treat cancer. !!

    August 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  17. JMZ

    Hi Marsha the medications you take that come up, shouldt be a prob. Just make sure you mention it before and they can verify it. Heck give them a copy of yer prescription. I had a drug test yesterday for my job and I told them things i took(i wouk out and take suppliments) i know the tings i take are not illegal and are avail at any sports nutrition shop, but i did it cause i didnt know how the drug test may see it :0)

    August 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  18. JMZ

    Hi Marsha. See thats where the hitch lies too. The lib media and influences over the last few generations have been dictating that we cannot judge these people and we have to support the kids. Teen, illegal immigrant, welfare pregnancies, drug addiction etc have been massivly on the rise since these idiotic notions have been taught. and the liberal response has only been "you are not supposed to judge now cut the check". I am for helping kids too. but it seems to me that if we are not allowed to judge the parents, and support the "innocent children" then really what is the deterrent to having unwanted/planned pregnancies or the incentive to support yourself/kids when everything is given to you. it really isnt that difficult. its like rasing kids. when you get your first car. you have 1 thats given a brand new car just because, or the kids who works 2 summer jobs and saves his penies for an old junker that runs. then tell me which one appreciated it more.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  19. Marsha

    I just learned of a school giveaway that is handing out backpacks to kids of parents who are drug addicts and alcoholics! I think the kids should be helped but then persons like me who are very disabled with MS and other health problems got shut out of this giveaway because I am not a drug addict! GRRR!!!!!

    August 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  20. Mr P

    Thank you JMZ this is not about unemployment. This is about a welfare state like new york. we are moving into 5th and 6th GENERATION welfare. Its time to stop it NOW. I'm sick and tired of paying for people to sit on their ass and then tell me i'm not doing enough. This past week new york state handed out 200 for school supplies to kids on welfare, whos parents+ at least 3 generations have not paid one thin dime in taxes. A woman on tv complained because her 3 year old did not qualify (she was mad). I have to pay for this? are you kidding me I get to pay my 6000$ school tax bill and then go spend 350$ on school supplies for my kids. I've worked for 34 years now and paid taxes begining at age 14. Cut them off NOW. Help those who need help getting on their feet everyone else get off your ass or get cut off.
    Addiction is not a disease its a choice!

    August 14, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  21. Thermos

    Scottish girl, you are the smartest person to speak yet.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  22. JMZ

    Scottish girl- While i may be for legalization of drugs, I still do not want people living on welfare to take drugs, drink or smoke. This is the price you need to pay for living on MY DIME. Welfare is ment for a temporary hand to get back on your feet not for us to support you 5 kids by 5 different fathers and a party life for years and generations. Welfare people need to use the money for only things they need like food and water. nothing more. If they want to drink, do drugs etc then they need to get their own money not mine. Second achoholism/drug addiction is NOT a disease. it is a weakness only. this is comming from a former addict. Even taking into account drugs like heroin where you need to taper off . I still do not consider it a disease. I m sick of people who have been on methadone"treatment" since before i was born in some cases. all it is is state sponsored addiction. The fact that we treat it as a "disease instead of a weakness in character, only enables them to feel more sorry for themselves and be more irresponsible.

    August 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  23. Scottish girl

    By the way, for people receiving unemployment benefits, that is money that THEY have paid out of THEIR paychecks when they were employed. I'm not unemployed, but if I were receiving unemployment checks, that would be MY money that had been withdrawn from my paychecks over time. It's called unemployment INSURANCE. When I file a claim with my car insurance company, they don't come and test me for drugs before cutting a check. It shouldn't be any different for unemployment insurance. So if it's my money anyway, why should someone else be able to decide whether or not I can receive it based on my lifestyle?

    August 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  24. Scottish girl

    So, I'm really curious then, how many of you are aware of the drug laws in some regions oversees and the respective crime rates in those areas? Look it up! Countries in Europe who have legalized many drugs, and therefore treat addiction as a disease, have MUCH less drug-related crime than we do here in the US. It's time for people in the US to become educated about the difference between PRISON-FORCED DETOX and PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED DETOX (such as methadone clinics). Open your eyes! Take a good look at our lobbyists and tell me why alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. It's been scientifically proven that an overdose of marijuana is not possible because it simply isn't toxic enough. Look that up too! Can we say the same for alcohol? No, so why is it legal? And who's paying our lobbyists to keep it legal? Perhaps it's the alcoholic beverage companies? They certainly have the money to, and meanwhile, who's fighting to legalize marijuana, which has proven medical uses? By the way, I don't smoke pot, can't stand the stuff. And the only reason I know alot of this is because I got clean and sober 12 years ago. So I've seen firsthand what different drugs do to people (and for those of you who don't know–alcohol IS A DRUG). Having said that, I still believe (after 12 years clean and sober) that drugs (but ESPECIALLY marijuana) should be legal.

    This is an area of great interest to me, having lost 3 people in my life to drugs/alcohol. Please let me know if you'd like my email to communicate personally about this subject.

    August 13, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  25. ursa

    I think not only drug free but should also be mandatory US citizen in order to even apply. We have people moving to our small town just to get free benifits and they do not even apply for work but get housing food stamps and other "free sevices" for the poor these people are not handicapped or unemployable just plain LAZY!! Booze and pot should be reguarded the same way. I am sick of working for others!!

    August 5, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  26. cp

    I think you people who are supporting this are just stupid. I paid into that unemployment bank just like the rest of you. If i want to do something with the money I EARNED liked everyone else then its my RIGHT as an american to do it. Does it mean im a bad person or abusing the system? NO! I have never commited a MAJOR crime in my life i show up for work every day never called in and did a good honest job. Dont tell me what i can or can not do on my own time. Just for the record I DO NOT USE DRUGS I had drug test all the time and passed everyone. But i do support our rights in the CONSTITUTION that we have privacy to do what we want on our own time. Unemployment is not forever! Just long enough for people to go to school to help find a job or continue to survive and support a family while finding another job. Am i saying everyone on unemployment looks for jobs everyday and does everything in their power to find a job before the money runs out????? NO Thats why there is a limit to how long you get unemployment. No program in our society is perfect and everything has a flaw. Don't take away what little freedom we have left because you Republican pricks think that by doing this you'll make the world a better place because you will not. I do not support this at all nor will i ever. We all pay to get that money not just you non drug using people who think your better than everyone because someone wants to smoke a little weed to calm down.This is my feeling on UNEMPLOYMENT not welfare.

    July 24, 2009 at 2:23 am |
  27. janice

    I think if they drug tested these people a lot of them would not be able to collect. I have a nephew collecting unemployment and that;s the first thing he does is go buy drugs. My mother let him come and stay with us so he can get his life back on track and I am trying to find a way to turn him in.

    May 22, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  28. Mike

    eric you have know idea what you are talking about

    May 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  29. eric

    I know about 5 "people" if thats what ypu want to call them all in their 40's still living at home with mommy. they all collect unenployment (all of which are one their third extension) one gets SSI and its a party fest from hell when they get those checks. First they hit the liqour store for booze and smokes, then they set up shop in a grimmy basement or abandoned house in the gehtto with rats and prostitutes. together they spend about $1000.00 dollars a night getting wasted and at the same making the dope man rich on the tax payers money.
    They also collect food stamps that they sell for half the value.. by the 3rd day they are all broke and then hit soup kitchens and food banks to get by untill they get the next check.
    I think testing is a great idea. sure it may cost the goverement money but they will recoup the expense and then some by cutting off these junkies' mad money. And anyone that thinks drug testing is a bad idea based on what I have written about, I think its more likely than not you have pro-drug feelings or are currently using dope yourself. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    April 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  30. eric

    Drug test them all!!!!

    April 3, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  31. Marsha

    I am a food stamp recipient and disabled with MS. i am ALL FOR drug testing. I am sick of being lumped in with drug addicts and treated just the same. If I am not abusing drugs or the system for that matter, why should the person who IS be allowed tot he same benefits that i am? It makes so sense.

    I have a concern. I am on LEGITIMATE medications that would come up in a drug test. I had a full time job and went through random testing so I know what to expect, but what I dont know is how to account for a positive when I am not abusing anything. I take heavy duty narcotics that would cause a problem.

    i dont want to get kicked off for having prescription medications that I am legally in posession of for a medical condition.

    April 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  32. Frank

    How can so many people be so naive. The children of people receiving the money from these assistence programs never see the food or clothes that they are supposed to be getting with this money because the drugies are spending it on drugs. Many of these people have three or four alias names and four or five children with different mates. My wife works at the welfare office taking food stamp applications and some of the stories would curl your hair. Noone is trying to hurt anyone with this law they are just trying to screen out the people who don't deserve it. A responsible member of the family could accept the checks and direct the money to where it is intended to go. Handing over a check or food stamps to an addict is like standing on the corner and giving them a bag of dope. This law would be a start to straightening out a system that is so fouled up that generations of people are accepting this money and never working a day in their lives. They are taught how to work the system in order to stay gainfully unemployed. Believe me I'd rather help the people in this country who need it than send money around the world to people who most likely don't appreciate it at all but handing out checks for nothing in return is insanity. This is a free country and anyone who has the DRIVE to get themselves off assistance and into the job market can do it. Assistance should be geared toward education not handouts. And everyone out there should know that addicts who do not seek help are going to take that check and run to the corner and get their next fix. They couldn't care less if their children are starving and most likely don't even care where they are.

    April 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  33. Hailey

    First off, this pretty much makes the assumption that all low income people are drug addicts, which is pretty damn discriminatory.
    Why is it that only the "poor people" assistance is being targeted by this? Why don't they care to test the big business executives that applied for those huge bailouts, or the wealthy individuals and entrepreneurs applying for different types of government assistance and grants? Why aren't they concerned about testing themselves, the government officials?

    I also see a lot of anger about individuals taking advantage of the system, driving better cars than you while on foodstamps, etc. I'd like to point out that not every person on low-income assistance is abusing it. Some don't even have cars to drive. Some can't even afford to shop at Wal-mart for new shoes. So please remember, when you're directing you unabashed anger towards what's unfair in this situation, that the crooked people you see are giving the mass of hard-up honest people a bad name.
    Some people are simply struggling, and if you put yourself in the same situation, I'm sure you'd want somebody to help you out for a bit so you could get back on your feet. Driving people further into poverty only makes this problem worse.

    April 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  34. Trouble

    Hammer, nail, etc. More idiocy from the "war on (some) drugs".

    I have a headache, pass the Tylenol.

    April 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  35. Lara

    My company does random drug testing. I have a letter on file with them from my doctor stating that my prescription will make it appear that I'm on drugs, but even with that, I've been temporarily suspended the times I've failed the drug tests. The one time they tried to make me re-take it a third time before they'd let me return to work – I had to call a consumer health advocacy group before the company would let go of the idea of firing me.

    Its amazing the number of people on here who forget that many of the people on these assistance programs are not living off of their money – living on assistance is truly hell, and you are constantly fighting mismanagement, misplaced documents, rude social workers, etc You're lucky to have a spare penny in your pocket when its said and done. Very few of the people who are on disability programs are on for a lengthy amount of time. it would be more accurate to say they are living off of the money they previously paid into the system than to say they are living off your money. You never know when a disability will strike you – mine came out of of the blue without warning. I went from making $40,000/year to needing assistance in using the restroom, in less than 24 hours. My hospital bill was over $100,000 and I did not qualify for any of the hospital charity programs because I had insurance. I also didn't qualify for any government medical assistance relating to that bill because I had worked in the month I became disabled. – Several years later, and after returning to the workforce, I'm still paying on that bill.

    April 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  36. Carol

    For those of you worried about what drug testing is going to cost the tax payer, think about this number..... $181 billion dollars. That is the number that Abuse of drugs other than alcohol cost the nation’s economy in 2002. That figure came out of the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services. That was 7 years ago...I would bet that figure is ever higher today. The average drug screen device can be bought for under $9.00.

    As far as unemployment benefits are concerned, only the EMPLOYER pays the state and federal unemployment tax....NOT THE EMPLOYEE.

    Those that think that smoking pot is a personal are right but....At the end of the day, it is still illegal to sell or use unless you live in a state that allows medical THC. Even then, it is unauthorized in businesses that have drug free workplace programs as stated in their policy. Drug testing, rehab and treatment is the only real solution to the war on drugs.

    April 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  37. cherie

    Im from the state of Ohio. If you get food stamps here you got to work for them in their programs. They don't drug test them. They should. A mother who has a baby about 2 months after her baby is born she has to work for her benefits she gets 200 in cash assistance and about 150 in food stamps shes forced to put her baby in child care which the state pays for child care in Ohio for one baby 30 hours a week is 560 dollars a month so their dishing out 560 for 350 in benefits. Does that make any sense? I worked in child care the single moms who went to school instead of working got all benefits from the state ,drove a better newer car then i did, had expensive cell phones, get their nails done every week, i couldn't afford none of that but my tax dollars provided that for them. The whole system needs to be looked at.

    April 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  38. Christine

    I am reading so much crap. People saying that is the way the Democrats think. First of all I am Democrat and I believe those who are on public aid should be required to test for assistance. I don't believe they should be required for unemployement benefits. That is money people paid in when they were working. If they are on drugs that's their problem. It's the taxpayers problem when they seek public assistance and for that everyone should be held accountable. People need to see that assisting the unmotivated, the world owes me something mentality will keep continuing until they are held responsible. This country is in a world of trouble with that mentality and God help us all if it doesn't change!

    April 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  39. cherie

    I agree on legalizing marijuana. I am drug free. I had an ex that enjoyed pot, he worked supported his own habit. It was great when he was high.He was very functional when he was high. Alcohol is what made him lose his job,DUI,violent, lot of problems. That is what is legal go figure. Alcohol is what is killing people. Not pot!!!

    April 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  40. cherie

    I think they should be tested. I had to be drug tested for my job. Of course i passed . I still hold my job. Since it is my drug free tax money that is going towards those benefits, then I expect the person receiving those benefits be drug free

    April 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  41. FedUpWithGrubbers

    Ok libbies – just a few notes to point out here. The article covers ALL government benefits.

    I agree – unemployment should be treated differently than welfare. If you pay into your unemployment insurance, then by all means you should collect it when needed, no strings attached.

    But don't be mad at people who demand an accounting of "MY" tax dollars when it comed to welfare. You criticize people for having a "me, me, me!" attitude. What do you expect. The "downtrodden" can be equally greedy. I live in NYC where, drive by any project, people are outside wearing their $150 sneakers pretty nice DESIGNER clothing. Most of them are talking on their CELL PHONES!!!! Wonder who pays for that? What happened to getting a quarter and going to the pay phone? I've even seen commercials on tv offering free cell phones if you can't afford one. What??? The people feel "why should they be denied". I'll tell you why, those things are expensive and not necessities. They should be reserved for people who WORK HARD and PAY for them. My family collects NOTHING in terms of assistance and I shop at payless for shoes! I COOK 95% of the meals in my house because it's TOO expensive to eat out – even McDonald's can get expensive.

    Personal experience – went grocery shopping for just a few items. The woman in front of me wearing a fur coat and gold rings to make MR. T blush. She paid with a Food Stamp EBT card. After I checked out and got to the parking lot, wouldn't you know it, she was loading her purchases into her fairly new looking BMW.

    So yes, on top of things like this, and then hearing how welfare lifers spend their assistance on illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, I think it's a no brainer to support this.

    PS – Those on here complaining about the small amount of assistance you receive, let me ask, how can you then afford internet service???? Priorities folks!!!

    April 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  42. Get over it!

    I'm all for drug tests for anyone that receives gov't money – regardless of party affiliations, etc. I've read som nay of these comments pointing fingers at "Republicans", and "Democrats", at "Alcoholics", etc, etc... I served in teh military fo 13 years, and routinely had to submit to drug testing. Seems the only people that really complained about it were those that usually came back positive.

    For the people that say that it's just a stumbling block for those that are "clean", and trying to get benefits, and hate the fact that now they have to take another test, well.. think about it... if drug screening were required, don't you think the line would be considerably shorter?

    And for those that were "former Pastors", and quit because someone else did something wrong... well.. maybe being a Pastor wasn't your calling to begin with – you obviously quit for the wrong reason.. One would think that you would have adhered even closer to your beliefs.

    Yes, I'm in favor of drug screening. I submit to it at my present employer. I beleive the only ones that truely object, object to the fact that the drugs themselves are illegal.

    BTW... Coffee isn't illegal...yet. Nor is alcohol itself... or even tobacco (if you're of age, and/or the use of such does not violate any current laws).

    I wonder... just how many of these people that are complaining are drawing gov't subsidies of some sort. I'm not saying that gov't assistance is bad, and you're not a good person if you need it.. Everyone needs help at some time in their life for one reason or another.

    And I'm sure there will be the one person that slams me because he (or she) makes $500K a year, and still thinks drug screening is wrong. And I'm sure someone will find a typo error or two, and focus on that.. Whatever makes you day.

    I've been down that path – I was one of those that got laid off after 9/11.. But I went and found another job. Far from what I was making, but it was a job. And for those that say "there aren't any jobs"... I read everyweek where there's a job fair somewhere..

    Tell me.. if there's no jobs.. why are there job fairs??????

    What your'e saying is "there are no jobs for what I want to do".. Well, welcome to the real world. I'm not doing what I want to do, but it pays the bills, and puts food on my family's table. For that, I'll do whatever I can find.

    If you're really in need a of a job, you'd do the same... Take what you can find. I'm working a job that is far beneath my qualifications... Are you any better than me?

    And for that job that you think you deserve – would you pee in a bottle to get it? Damn straight you would... so why not for a check that you aren't working for??

    April 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  43. Karen

    Stop and think how much you could really do to make sure those who are using our money do the right thing

    So you test for drugs... This still leaves out alcohol and tobacco which cost our society much more in money and lives. Oh but wait they are legal... Sorry... Alcohol leaves the body quickly we won't be able to catch that easily, so, lets put breathalyzers at recieptant's front door. Tobacco leaves a byproduct – test for that – (There are two powerful groups that would NEVER let that happen)

    While your at it... Obesity and heart disease is costing us a fortune. Lets make sure they only buy "good" food with our money. The food police can be assigned to that. As for exercise, all must sign up to workout three days a week. No sweat no money. (OMG not the food and exercise police!)

    Washing your hands and covering your cough and sneezes cuts down and communicable disease. Receive OUR money and you are caught not washing your hands or covering your cough you will be fined. That goes for your germy kids too!

    and I almost forgot..... Safe sex. But we won't go there.

    Welcome to the land of the absurd and it all started because of some knee jerk reaction to what they think people are doing with the money they get.

    Wake up and smell the coffee! (must ban that, caffine is a drug)
    Have some decaf and have a nice day!

    April 2, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  44. Jo

    Brian said,

    "Get it through your redneck heads that pot isn’t the problem. Insane laws equating weed with heroin are! Let’s daily test these fat cats for alcohol use on the job. Testing done after lunch! Who’s the bigger threat?"

    I was a pastor at one time, and I have caught many other pastors smoking weed, and at times saw them being drunk. I was even approached by another pastor to sleep with him. I am not a pastor anymore because of this and many other hypocritical things.

    Now, if this is true for pastors; I think it is true also for Wall Street!

    My husband is on unemployment for the first time in his life, and he has filled out thousands of resumes. He has never used any drug, nor does he drink alcohol. I think if there is one more thing he has to stand in line for that will be a waist of his time; he is going to have a heart attack. I think we should leave people on unemployment alone. Life is right hard enough.

    April 2, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  45. Terry

    Is this still America? It amazes me how many good people are willing to give up other people's freedoms. You don't require drug testing as an eligibility factor when PAYING taxes so why should you require drug testing to receive tax benefits? They can pay but not collect? How about we deny wife beaters and people who owe taxes and anyone who has ever gotten a DUI? Where do your moral conditions end? Personally I would exclude the narrow minded. God save me from the self righteous "morality police".

    April 1, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  46. Anna

    Craig Blair is a fascist thug and so are all the respondents here who agree with his position. Its as simple as that.

    April 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  47. John

    I really don't know what else to add a lot of us sound like someone a long time ago tried to make a perfect society but it didn't work. We all will have these kinds of problems until we die. I don't do street drugs or drink as me to take a drug test and I will even let you piss for me.

    We all have spent needless time on here, now why don't we really do something good for mankind. Lend a helping hand out to someone, complete stranger, someone that you don't know and please tell them that you just wanted to help and you have enough piss for one day.

    We can make a difference but not with everyone don't even try to go there. Some use the system and some give to the system that is the way it will always be. Thank you for your support. Give someone a hug and tell them that they will be ok. Don't judge people until you have been there and done that. I will never be on here no more or come by this way again, but let you be forwarned that everyone's time is coming down the road and remember that when you pick up an empty wine bottle or smoke a little weed remember you are the judge of your own kind.
    Good Night and take a number yours will be called shortly.

    April 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  48. Blinkandthink

    I support the bill to test all politicians with mandatory polygraph testing on a randomized schedule at least 3 times per year per politician. If they don't pass, remove them from office and revoke their benefit packages. They are dealing with our money and our laws, (trillions of dollars and our constitution). What greater responsibility is there? What if they have a tendency to obscure the truth? What would the consequences be to us, the taxpayers and citizens, if they tend to lie by omission, or if they have a secret darker side that they did not disclose? We have a right to be sure they are suitable for their jobs on the basis of polygraphs.

    Start with the most suspicious one, West Virginia, Rep. Craig Blair (R-Berkeley County).

    April 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  49. Dave

    These comments are great. Funny to read some of the liberal comments. If someone would happen to lose their handouts for doing something illegal wouldn't that be a shame. It's about time someone has the guts to stand up and do the right thing even though it wouldn't be popular with the ACLU. I am more than willing to give my money to the people that need it and willing to stay staight to get it. But I am not happy to see my hard earned money being wasted on someone needing a handout that is wasting their money on cigs, drugs, and alcohol. If you want to play that game than don't use my money for it. If they go hungry, they only have themselves to blame. It not everyones elses fault, it is theirs. Everyone is becoming so used to thinking that government should be taking care of them. That might be the real addition here. No easy answers for the ones that have become dependent on government handouts. It might come to the point that they might have to go cold turkey when all our money runs out. (or goes up in smoke) I think I'll go out on my front porch and sit on my couch now and watch the cars go by.

    April 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  50. kenny

    And how are the children of these failing testers gonna eat without food from food stamps? And Who pays for the lab work? Im sure there wouldnt be enough failures to justify the tax dollar cost to pay for the testing. Let all the people who want the testing to have the cost of it assessed to there individual income taxes if they want testing so bad. Look at the statistics and failure rates such as state workers etc and tell me how to justify such a large and costly testing program to burden taxpayers with on top of the welfare and benefits programs.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:56 pm |
  51. Matt

    My only statement on this whole thing is about the ones who believe drug addiction is a disease. It was the choice of the individual to abuse a product/substance. As it is the choice of that same individual to buy drugs instead of paying his/her bills or buying food for one's child.

    Drug abuse/misuse is a disorder not a disease.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  52. Joe

    Absolutely. The contretemp with unenployment is that it is an overly ABUSED system. Not being able to find work and not choosing to work are two very different things. I fear the number of invidividuals in the latter category has increased dramatically in the last decade, and under the current administration, will only continue to do so.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:51 pm |
  53. K. F. Ohio

    Many of these arguments don't hold much water.

    First of all, unemployment is paid out to people who lost their jobs. This means that THEY TOO have paid into the system. Regardless of any poor decisions they have made regarding drug use, they (and their innocent children) have a right to be compensated.

    Secondly, this sort of legislation will not deter individuals from substance abuse. There are plenty of laws against rape, murder, child abuse, etc. The punishment for these crimes are much worse than denial of unemployment. Yet, all of these bad things still occur. The threat of punishment is not an effective means to control peoples' actions.

    Finally, if we do decide to stop payments to drug users who have lost their job, what means will they turn to in order to feed themselves? It sounds like a good idea, denying 'handouts' to 'lazy' drug users. I think many of us fail to realize that these financial safety nets prevent individuals from resorting to more serious crimes. How much will it cost to increase police forces in order to control them? I would rather pay for a 'lazy' non-violent drug user's addiction than pay to have him arrested for holding up my local convenience store.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  54. Brian S.

    I think it is a great Idea. I have a job. I work and they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes them as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random test, which I have no problem doing. I am a recovering addict. Had a horrible drug problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a drug test. If you can't and have no job, sounds like your priorities are pretty screwed up. Shouldn't one have to pass a drug test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. Especially with todays economy. Lord knows, I've had tremendous help in my struggle and am truely grateful. I do, on the other hand, have a problem witth helping someone sitting on their lazy butts, doing drugs, while I work... Can you imagine how much money the state,you live in save.If people had to pass a drug test to get a public assistance check? WOW! Who cares about their feelings, white, black, green or purple. I do feel strongly about peoples rights, but get ovet it.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  55. spammy

    Do any you really see the recipients of those programs that are a problem?

    I do. I live in a very poor neighborhood.

    It's more alcohol than drugs the downtrodden turn to.

    It's cheaper.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:46 pm |
  56. Glenn

    I agree 100 %. I have no problem with my tax dollars helping those who are willing to try and make a better life for them selves. and to do that a person should be drug free to make a clear a commited leap to improve oneself. government assistance should only short term

    April 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  57. Brian S.

    I think it is a great idea. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, i am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. With that said i am a recovering drug addict. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to poeple who don't have to pass a urine test. Shouldn't a person a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass a urine test to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. Lord knows I've had help through my own struggles. I do have a problem with people (not people layed off from economy) sitting on their lazy butts, doing drugs. (any kind) Sounds like your priorities are screwed up. While I work. Imagine how much money the state you live in would save if people had to do this to get public assistance checks!!

    P.S. To the Brian that wrote bout middle ways up.

    Opiates, Speed, etc stay in sytem up to 3-5 days (depending on how taken)

    Im also a recovering addict and have fallen off the wagon before. I pay taxes and have no problem with that.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  58. Darlene

    This is a terrible idea. HOW FAR DO WE WANT TO TAKE THIS. How about getting a drug test before you can collect your federal income tax refund. Think of all the money that would save the government. Or anybody that wants to ride public transportation or use the public library or public parks should be drug tested; politicians–state, federal, and local–taking government paychecks should all be drug tested; FATCAT BANKERS AND INSURANCE CROOKS SHOULD HAVE BEEN TESTED; teachers and anybody that works for a public school or university should be tested. Anybody getting Social Security and Medicare should be tested. Anybody getting student loan money should be tested. Let's test foreign visitors to the White House that eat at state dinners that the taxpayers pay for should be drug tested. THIS IS TOTALLY STUPID!!! And if pot smokers are so lazy, how can they qualify for unemployment benefits to begin with?

    April 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  59. Kevin

    Some simple facts, some of which have already been mentioned but these things should be very clear to all discussing this matter.

    1) Unemployment is nothing like welfare. Unemployment is accumulated over time is a direct result of your own work history. If you never worked before, the state isn't paying for your lack of work. Basically it's not free money and the money you receive via unemployment is nobody else's but your own investment.

    2) Any form of addiction is a disease. Ask any doctor. That's why it's called addiction. If you deny this fact you can no longer debate this topic with any authority.

    3) Drug testing is an invasion of privacy. Once they make drug tests that indicate whether you are "high" at the moment of the test only, will it stop being an invasion of privacy. If I drink a beer, do meth, coke, ecstasy, or eat poppy seeds a week before a drug test, I will in fact pass that drug test. However if I take just one hit from a joint I can fail that same drug test for up to 3 or 4 months after that one hour "high".

    4) Fully understanding the ramifications of #3; what does drug testing seem to target (intentionally or unintentionally)? Marijuana. Why is this a fact? Because in the entire recorded history of man nobody has ever died from using Marijuana alone, meanwhile how many people die from cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs annually? Millions. Basically the fact is that Marijuana is one of the safest drugs and current drug tests seem to target Marijuana users, the weakest and least dangerous of all drug offenders.

    Now that you know the facts lets talk.

    Unemployment benefits shouldn't be regulated by a drug test of any kind because it is an invasion of privacy, tests don't indicate current "high-ness", and your personal work history determines your unemployment benefits.

    This is not to say that public funds individuals tap into when they have hardships i.e. food stamps, welfare, bailouts or any "free money" taken from any government agency should be handed out without any strings. Quite the opposite. We should only be giving this "free money" to people that are worthy and going to do with it the best for everybody. It's basically the principles of socialism. During difficult times when people are in need of "free money" they should prove they are worthy of the help by jumping through any hoops we as a society prop up in the wind (within reason of course). If we help these people will the money be put to good use? This is the question we need to ask ourselves when making policies to redistribute our wealth to those less fortunate. But forcing people to take a drug test for money which they have basically invested into their own future is just plain wrong.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  60. Lois

    Yes absolutely! I think its a great idea..I am a senior citizen on a fixed income and I get 15.00 a month food stamps which I am extremely grateful for, but I know there are a lot of people in this town that I know personally that get $200.00 or more in food stamps plus cash assistance and they are high on drugs all the time. I think also they should have to show how they spend the money, by signing the grocery receipt with one copy going to the state and one copy to us, because some of these people are trading food stamps for other illegal things. As long as someone knows your PIN # you can take anyones card to the store and buy groceries. I hope and pray this bill gets past and I most definately will be praying that it does. Because I think everyone needs to be accountable especially when its the taxpayers that are giving us their hard earned money.

    Thank you for listening,


    April 1, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  61. Bill

    Besides the government trying to snoop issues, which are bad in them selves. The tests are NOT 100% accurate! That means if the tests are 99% accurate, with 32 million people on food stamps alone (from the article) that would be 320,000 people branded at drug users falsely. Being that the testing would be done by the lowest bidder, would you really want your food stamps and your life left to chance?

    April 1, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  62. Ross

    This is a tough issue. On one hand, this would without a doubt cause a lot more people to end up homeless and without anywhere to go. Unless this measure is supplemented with an increase in funding for drug treatment most of these people are going to turn to their only source of help, the drugs that got them there. On the other hand, it is their own fault if they cannot stay clean and they will deserve no help from the government.
    I think this is a good measure. While I am pro-welfare, I do believe that it must be used efficiently. If we are going to put rules on banks who accept government money (as we damn well should) then it is not too much of a leap to put rules on people who accept government money.
    That being said, I think it should be treated in a manner proportional to the danger of the drug. Does a person who smokes a joint deserve to lose their benefits for the same amount of time as a person who turns their welfare check into heroine? I don't think so.
    I say, take the money saved from installing this plan and put it into drug and alcohol treatment as well as education.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:30 pm |
  63. Detra

    Absolutely! If I have to be drug-tested to get the job I have and am subject to random testing, the people who use my tax dollars while not working should be subject to the same standards. You can't really argue the cost, because after denying all the people benefits who fail drug tests, the government will end up coming out ahead.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm |
  64. Andy

    Craig Blair is way out of touch with the real world. Perhaps he's smokin' something he shouldn't be. And he should probably look for a new job as well. What a ridiculous concept.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  65. Kim White

    I agree %100. I know to many people recieveing food stamps, welfare, etc, along with unemployment benefits, that have no desire to work, even if they were offered a job. They spend their wefare checks to buy drugs and alcohol, and they sell their food stamps for cash to buy drugs and alcohol. If they can afford to buy drugs, they don't need food stamps or welfare.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  66. EnlightenMe

    Yes, let's continue to punish the underpriviledged for being born into poverty, for being products of a failed public education program, and for having vices which are(supposedly) outside of the societal norm. Let's redirect the issue, blame the victims of Wall Street's avarice instead of placing the blame where it belongs: on the plutocrats who have caused so many common people to be unemployed.

    Marijuana is the number one cash crop in a dozen states. It stays in your system for months, and for years in hair samples. Think about that for a minute. Now imagine how much money can be saved if the government denies people welfare/unemployment benefits based on drug tests. Ever been to a concert and the people next to you lit up a doobie?

    Well, if trace amounts of second hand pot smoke got into your lungs, even if you didn't inhale, it could disqualify you for unemployment or welfare now. Gas chromatography testing can determine chemical signatures in parts per billion, and such a test could turn up positive if that was you at the concert with seats next to the stoners.

    Never mind that the whole time you worked for your company a part of your paycheck went into unemployment benefits, in case you were ever to be unemployed. What a great way for these businesses to not pay you back YOUR money, huh?

    These short-sighted congressmen have done their financial math, but they seem to forget history, especially what happens when the lower classes are continually abused and berated by those in power. The rich and powerful had better watch their step or they might be facing the national razor on a short order. Literally.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  67. Todd Minnesota

    Great Idea, now let's not forget anyone who receives a single dollar of benefit from the government. Since it is best to lead by example that means that members of the Executive, Legislative, Judicial branches will all be required to be randomly drug tested. Of course that could be waived should that appointed, elected or hired person were to forgo all benefit of their position, salary, per diem, mileage reimbursement, government supplied transportation, government supplied housing. Next would be anyone, anyone who receives a benefit from taxpayers dollars. If you are receiving Social Security, Welfare, Food Stamps, Unemployment, protection from fire by the local fire department (unless privately funded), protection from crime by local police (unless private security is the sole source of protection), protection from foreign powers (I guess that would be all of us then)......So, let's just all submit to random drug testing to make sure that no one who is a receipient of any benefit at all paid for by my tax dollars. And on top of that I won't even mind paying more taxes just to fund the whole new army of urine testers.
    Just what we need right now more government.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
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