SB 21, sponsored by Senator Colburn, proposes to require individuals applying for or receiving temporary cash assistance benefits (“welfare”) to be tested for controlled dangerous substances (“drugs”).
(V) 1. AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION FOR ASSISTANCE, SUBMITS TO SUBSTANCE ABUSE SCREENING AND TESTING, AS ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT
The bill includes placement for drug treatment should the recipient test positive (but doesn’t say who’s paying for the treatment):
(i) TEST THE APPLICANT OR RECIPIENT FOR A CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE USING A TEST SELECTED BY THE DEPARTMENT, and, if THE APPLICANT OR RECIPIENT TESTS POSITIVE, determine placement for treatment and related support services
(3) MAY NOT RECEIVE MORE THAN 6 MONTHS OF TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE WHILE IN TREATMENT.
Drug testing welfare recipients has many problems. First, it’s a violation of the Maryland Declaration of Rights as this amounts to a general warrant for all welfare recipients - therefore, it is unconstitutional.
Art. 26. That all warrants, without oath or affirmation, to search suspected places, or to seize any person or property, are grievous and oppressive; and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend suspected persons, without naming or describing the place, or the person in special, are illegal, and ought not to be granted.
The numbers, confirming previous estimates, show that taxpayers spent $118,140 to reimburse people for drug test costs, at an average of $35 per screening.
The state’s net loss? $45,780.
Drug testing welfare recipients benefits one segment - drug testing companies. Drug testing in Maryland costs upward of $45 per test. The scheme of drug testing welfare recipients to the tune of $45+ per test, with a 2.6% positive rate (as in FL) results in a different type of welfare - corporate welfare for drug testing companies.
Finally, Florida’s law was found unconstitutional by a judge (again). The legal costs to the taxpayers of Florida are not counted in the loss, above.
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