24 March 2009

Drug Testing, Really?

Today the Kansas House passed HB 2275, this bill has an amendment that would require that recipients of “cash” assistance submit to random drug testing. Now KansasJackass and Bagyants have covered this issue a bit today, but well I figure my readers may not be the same and I feel like there is more to say. And since, I'm currently on unemployment – it's probably just a matter of time before they come for me.

This type of activity is nothing more than economic profiling. People are poor, obviously they are on dope, right?

According to the Drug War Chronicle, six states (not including Kansas) have taken up this issue. Their justification is the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that authorized these tests. Michigan instituted a drug testing law in 1999 for all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applicants. Three and a half years later,the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this type of blanket testing without probable cause violated the 4th Amendment protection against unlawful searches and seizures.

"This ruling should send a message to the rest of the nation that drug testing programs like these are neither an appropriate or effective use of a state's limited resources," said the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project head Graham Boyd at the time.

According to the ACLU's now-renamed Drug Law Reform Project, which had intervened in the Michigan case, the other 49 states had rejected drug testing for various reasons. At least 21 states concluded that the program "may be unlawful," 17 states cited cost concerns, 11 gave a variety of practical or operational reasons, and 11 said they had not seriously considered drug testing at all (some states cited more than one reason).

Random drug testing of welfare recipients has also been rejected by a broad cross-section of organizations concerned with public health, welfare rights, and drug reform, including the American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Inc., National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, National Health Law Project, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, Inc., National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Black Women's Health Project, Legal Action Center, National Welfare Rights Union, Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform."

Even considering all this information our “wonderful” elected officials decided to spend even more valuable legislative time on doing stupid things that will probably either be vetoed or struck down by a court later. We should all be proud.

This little jewel in the Fiscal Note on the bill...just makes me realize how insane these people are.

"Federal law prohibits the use of random drug testing in determining eligibility for Food Assistance and Medical Assistance. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services(SRS), the agency that administers the programs affected by this legislation, states that other public assistance programs to which HB 2275 could be applied are Temporary Assistance for Families, General Assistance, and Child Care Assistance. The agency also states that in Child Care Assistance, federal law stipulates that the primary beneficiary is the child, not the parents. HB 2275 would require these children to submit to random drug testing." (My Emphasis Added)