Thursday, August 18, 2016

Drug-Testing Welfare Program Yielded Zero Positive Results


Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan signed a controversial bill into law in December 2014, which required drug testing of welfare recipients.
As reported by The Guardian, zero people tested have tested positive.
The Michigan program began last October and covers Allegan, Clinton and Marquette counties. As of May, a total of 303 applicants and recipients for the state’s Family Independence Program, which provides temporary cash assistance, have participated in the pilot program. Zero have tested positive, the state said. When the program concludes, the state department of health and human services has 60 days to produce a report on its results.
Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, who signed legislation in December 2014 to launch the pilot program, declined to comment on the results so far.
“The governor will wait until the pilot program has concluded and the report is delivered, as required by the legislation, to reach any conclusions,” said Snyder’s spokeswoman, Anna Heaton.
The fact that they have been conducting tests in these three counties, and have yet to yield a single positive test, it is obvious that this is a waste of money. This program was implemented about 20 months ago. One would think if there was a huge drug problem amongst welfare recipents, they would have had at least a 10% positive test rate.
Several states with similar programs have produced similar results. In Tennessee, for example, only 65 of nearly 40,000 applicants for a cash assistance program tested positive for drugs. A program in Missouri had just 48 positive tests out of nearly 39,000, according to ThinkProgress – a total of 0.001%. Missouri officials told the news outlet the program will probably cost $1.35m over its initial three-year period.
Mississippi, whose program is similar to Michigan’s ongoing pilot, netted two positive results out of 3,656 during its first five months, costing the state roughly $5,000.
Michigan has a history of drug testing welfare recipients. In 1999, the state implemented a pilot program to randomly test welfare recipients across the state. It ended after five weeks when a judge found the program to be unconstitutional.

Only 21 of the 268 individuals subjected to a test under the randomized pilot program yielded positive results for drugs – about 8% – with all but three for marijuana.
The results of the current program shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Rana Elmir of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which successfully challenged the 1999 program in court and called on the state to abandon the current iteration.
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