(Chicago Sun-Times) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Preliminary figures on a new Florida law requiring drug tests for welfare applicants show that they are less likely than other people to use drugs, not more. One famous Floridian suggests that it’s the people who came up with the law who should be submitting specimens.
Gov. Rick Scott and other supporters of the law — the only one of its kind currently on the books in the U.S. — say the tests will save the state cash by weeding out people who would use welfare money on drugs. Critics say that just a few months after it went into effect, the law has already refuted the idea that people receiving public assistance are more likely to use drugs.
This is not a surprise to me. I’ve been poor and I’ve done drugs. When you’re poor, you can’t afford weed. You have to pay rent and eat. Weed is the “drug” that is mostly detected in these tests as it remains detectable for weeks. It is generally non-addictive so a person can easily go without it. For nearly everyone who smokes weed, it is a luxury item.
Those poor folks who do turn to other substances can find a much cheaper high in alcohol and other drugs. Most other drugs are undetectable after a few hours or days and alcohol is both legal and not tested. Even then, for most poor people, beer and other drugs are still luxury items; the majority of people who use drugs are not addicts.
So these poor people who are already struggling now get the indignity of peeing in a cup when they’re more likely to be clean than people who don’t need assistance. And those addicted few who are caught are further impoverished, making drug use and/or selling drugs on the street corner look more appealing.