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Drug Testing: Missouri Bill to Test Welfare Recipients Passes House, But Faces Battle in Senate

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #620)
Politics & Advocacy

The Missouri House Thursday passed a bill that would require welfare recipients to undergo drug testing upon "reasonable suspicion" they used drugs. But the Senate version of that bill, SB 607, is under sustained attack by Senate Democrats, who are filibustering it this week.

Under the bills, all work-eligible adults who received cash payments through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program would be drug tested if a caseworker has "reasonable suspicion" they are using drugs. Those who test positive would become temporarily ineligible for cash assistance, but their children could continue to receive benefits through a third party.

TANF is a federal program designed to help poverty-stricken parents provide for their children. In Missouri, more than 112,000 people get cash assistance through the program. The average family on the program gets $292 a month.

A legislative staff fiscal analysis of the Senate bill put the annual cost to the state at more than $5 million next year, and more than $6 million in coming years. Those figures represent the cost of drug testing an estimated 90,000 TANF recipients or new applicants each year and the cost of providing additional drug treatment services to deal with those who test positive.

But in debate this week, Senate Democrats said the fiscal analysis didn't take into account the cost of possibly having to care for children whose parents are denied benefits. "The people who are the complete, total innocent victims in this are the kids," said Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence), the Senate minority leader. "Let's act like a responsible family," he said. "What about our brother's kids?"

Republicans said the bill just made good sense. "It seems to prevent the state of Missouri from becoming an enabler to addiction," said Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin).

Will the Senate filibuster succeed? Stay tuned.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Jean Boyd (not verified)

Anyone who suggests that any group of people have their urine tested should have their urine tested. This is a perverse and sick strategy and no one has the right to subject another to it. I am just amazed that people in the U.S. have not had enough of this nonsense yet!

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 7:27pm Permalink
Larry Culp (not verified)

In reply to by Jean Boyd (not verified)

Dear Ms. Boyd,
Most of us in the working class now have to submit to random drug testing as a condition of employment. What planet are you on? To require welfare recipients to undergo the same tests that I have to endure as the provider of their benefits makes perfect sense!

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 1:40pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Larry Culp (not verified)

How about this instead: No one gets drug tested, and if you do a good job at work then your employer assumes you know how to run your own life.

Your argument only makes sense if one favors or at least accepts two things: 1) freedom for none, instead of freedom for all; and 2) the destruction of individuals and families from the most vulnerable sectors of society, for the reasons that opponents of this law have pointed out.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 6:32pm Permalink
Dan Stephens (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

Mr. Borden, do you also support abolition of implied consent laws regarding motor vehicle operation and alcohol? Frankly, if a private business person wants to require drug testing for his or her employees, they that's THEIR right, and to strip that from them means you fail to support your own claim. There are many problems with our national policy on drugs, but to fail and recognize a severe contradiction between an individual abusing drugs and receiving public funds is unfortunate at best. Freedom for none is an irrelevant statement, welfare is a voluntary program. While I feel for the conditions of those who participate, it does not change the underlying truth of this matter.

Mon, 07/05/2010 - 2:17am Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Dan Stephens (not verified)

These are good questions. I guess, as a first, I draw a pretty big distinction between not being allowed to drive a vehicle for a period of time, vs. the starvation and homelessness that can come upon an entire family when benefits are yanked away, and all the harm and cost to society that flows from that. I think there is an extremely huge distinction between those two levels of sanctions. And it's even worse, because in the former case, the individual has actually placed other people's lives in danger, whereas in the latter the individual has an arguably bad habit, but has not threatened anyone's life. You can say that welfare is a voluntary program and that the government therefore has the right to impose conditions, but in many cases it's not truly voluntary, if the alternative is starvation or homelessness, and I'm saying that imposing this particular sanction is an extraordinarily bad idea.

As far as the individual employer's right to drug test, I'm not in a rush to ban their right to do that, and because of my libertarian instincts I am not sure if I would go that far. But I don't think they should be doing it -- I would support a boycott of companies that drug test, for example -- and I think it's profoundly offensive in the vast majority of cases that employers are doing this. (I understand it in the case of certain positions, such as bus drivers or pilots and so forth, but even here I believe that impairment testing is a much more effective idea -- drug testing for marijuana when the metabolites will continue to show up for weeks also makes no sense at all.)

Bear in mind that drug testing takes place to the extent that it does because of government lobbying and pressure and funding, and in the case of government funding and contracts the requirements that get attached to that. The evidence does not support the efficacy of drug testing.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Mon, 07/05/2010 - 12:10pm Permalink
Tired of all t… (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

So are you saying that Illegal drug use is not threatening the lives, through starvation and neglect, of  those dependents? They are buying drugs and not food for their children. In my opinion unlawful use of a controlled substance should not be overlooked under the guise of protecting the children. If drug use is substantiated I say go one step further and place the children in protective custody. I agree that if I am required to take and pass a preemployment drug screening and have money taken out of my pocket to pay for these entitlement programs. Then those recipients of welfare should have to pass the same type of screening.

I have no issues with employers mandating the screenings as a way to discourage drug use in the workplace. Even the Military mandates random drug screening, after pulling out of port from hot spots like Jamaica, Columbia and Puerto Rico we could expect a drug test. If you are law abiding and clean then you have nothing to fear. I don't think that providing a sample is intrusive or should be considered "relinquishing your rights".

Fri, 01/28/2011 - 2:36pm Permalink
Muddkatt (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

By your Statement - "And it's even worse, because in the former case, the individual has actually placed other people's lives in danger, whereas in the latter the individual has an arguably bad habit, but has not threatened anyone's life" I do not believe that you have spent much time on the streets with Cops and EMS or in Hospital ICU's while Pt's high on drugs are trying to hurt anything they can reach.  Yet we have to pass Drug tests so we can do our jobs and try to get them helped.  They made a choice to do drugs......I want to make a choice not to give them money unless clean.  Make the Families of these users responsible for them.  Yes I mean Grannie, Grampa, Aunts, Uncles, Sisters, Brothers.  The family can pay the bills not Joe Taxpayer.  Not enough responsibility taken by the family.  It's always "I don't know what happened, there were always such a good kid?

Tue, 03/01/2011 - 7:34pm Permalink
ConradS (not verified)

In reply to by Jean Boyd (not verified)

I have to submit to urine tests at work as a condition of employment. The only people whom I've seen complain about this are drug users on for the children of these 'victims': If they are abusing drugs and have children...then they don't deserve those kids and should have them taken for the children's safety.

Thu, 06/17/2010 - 10:38am Permalink
Rebecca Coffin (not verified)

In reply to by Jean Boyd (not verified)

I had to pass a drug test to obtain my job and have to under go random drug tests to keep it. Why should

welfare recipients be any different. The majority of employers require drug testing.

Thu, 09/09/2010 - 8:45pm Permalink
Working man (not verified)

In reply to by Jean Boyd (not verified)

You call it nonsense ? I guess you don't have to work for a living like most of us. I am subject to a test at anytime like other working people are.  Why is it ok for someone to take my money blow it up their nose in front of their kids, I am few up with liberal crap kissing some ones butt so we don't hurt someone feelings Well what kind of a environment is those kids growing up in.  If we had people like you 200 years ago be still be in England oh yea GET A JOB 

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 2:25pm Permalink
undrgrndgirl (not verified)

unfortunately this country thrives on moral panics...the idea that one must pass a drug test in order to receive aid is untenable...there was some talk of requiring those receiving unemployment insurance be tested, too - money that recipients PAID INTO the system while they were working (many no doubt working while responsibly using *drugs*)...drug testing to get a job in no way proves ones ability to DO the job (and if you notice most jobs that require it are of the low paying kind)...this is more about social control than caring about what people put in their bodies...if it were about what people put in their bodies, they'd withhold assistance to those who use alcohol, cigarettes, eat primarily at fast food restaurants, etc...(oops i better shut up or they'll do that, too - lol)...the biggest hurdle is that there is money to be made by drug testing...i've seen information about FRANCHISE operations to do just's become something corporate america wants its cut of and we all know that corporate america is the only thing that matters, sigh.

with any luck this stupid bill will die in the missouri senate...

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 7:55pm Permalink
Rebecca Coffin (not verified)

In reply to by undrgrndgirl (not verified)

I am a nurse and have to submit to drug testing it is not just "low paying" jobs that require it. Most employers

require it to ascertain whether or not you are fit to do a particular job. I wouldn't want someone working for me that is messed up on drugs.

Thu, 09/09/2010 - 8:50pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I have recently reviewed a number of scientific studies of urine testing for THC. One finding is comforting in that the time you remain positive, even as a "moderate" smoker is much shorter that normally thought. It can be as little as a day or 2.

But the most surprising discover was that the time to "first positive" is up to more than 10 hours (mean time in one study was 7.7 hours, and in another was 5.7 based on a 50 ng/ml concentration of THC--the standard that non-nuclear workers are judged on).

If this doesn't take the whole "safety" mask off of the issue, I don't know what will. Clearly, if you are not positive until after your shift is over if you smoked on the drive in, how can testing before you start work tell anything about your possible use of MJ on the job?

This proves that the "random" testing for THC is about morality and trying to control your off-the-job life, not safety at the work place. Read for yourselves:
J Anal Toxicol. 1996 Oct;20(6):441-52. and
J Anal Toxicol. 1995 Oct;19(6):443-9.
Both free on line

There are other studies going back into the 1980s, so this has been know for a long time.

Mon, 02/15/2010 - 3:16am Permalink
Joelle (not verified)

Firstly, There is language in the bill detailing financial support for the children of welfare whose guardians fail drug tests and lose their benefits.
Secondly, there is also language requiring senators and other state officials to submit drug tests, so in response to the comment
"Anyone who suggests that any group of people have their urine tested should have their urine tested. This is a perverse and sick strategy and no one has the right to subject another to it. I am just amazed that people in the U.S. have not had enough of this nonsense yet!"

They will indeed be doing just that. Submitting a drug test and asking for them, but only on reasonable suspicion. They are NOT barging into homes without cause.

Further, I would like to assert that if an individual should receive benefits from a provider, it follows that the beneficiary should conform to the rules and regulations of the provider. SO if you are on government benefits, and it is illegal to use drugs, if you would like to continue to receive benefits you should refrain from drug use.
Wouldn't the goal of government assistance be to get a family to a self-sufficient status? Drugs are detrimental to the welfare of a family anyway, and a healthy incentive to get off drugs will benefit all children and family members involved, and quickly help the family to get back on its feet. Many employers are much more willing to help a welfare recipient get a job if they are willing to submit drug tests.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:40pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Joelle (not verified)

It's easy to say that there's money in the bill to provide benefits for the children. What you are missing, and perhaps what some of the legislators missed, is that plunging the parents into a situation of dire financial crisis has the effect of placing their children into that situation too, regardless of such benefits. How exactly is that going to work? Will one parent or an older child despite starvation muster the strength to take the other kids to the market to buy food using the benefits that have been provided, while the other stands outside to keep the family possessions that the evicting landlord has taken to the street from getting stolen? Where will they cook the food that's brought back, since they no longer have a kitchen or their utilities were cut off? Or is the plan just to shred the family, put the kids in foster homes (at state expense -- the bill was evaluated as costing money, remember) and wait till the parents end up in prison or dead?

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 12:30am Permalink
Rebecca Coffin (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

Do really think that serious drug users spend their welfare money on their children? They also sell their food stamps

for cash in order to buy drugs or just trade them for the drugs.  

Thu, 09/09/2010 - 8:57pm Permalink
Amber R (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

It already is costing us money, you are paying for someone's  drug habit. 

Just think for a moment, drug users have a pretty good chance of being caught with or without drug testing, going to jail, their children going to foster care, and you paying for it.  They are also highly likely to take a bad hit and end up lying on their living room floor foaming at the mouth while their child sits in their room hungry because their mommy or daddy used the money for food to buy the fix that killed them.

 For the sake of the children, and our money I hope it passes!


Thu, 11/18/2010 - 2:44am Permalink
ladyfireside (not verified)

I know several people who can't wait to get their AFDC check each month so they can purchase more drugs or gamble the money. I also know people who sell their Food Stamps to do the same thing. My theory is if these people do not want to be drug tested in order to receive help from the government, then they should get a job and provide for their children and not reach for the handout. Then they can argue about being tested for drug usage. I don't think any of these people should be tested just one time, but monthly in the State Office at request just like being on a job. I feel we are giving these people money to provide, (just like working), so they should be treated the same as if they had a job. This way you can smoke til your heart is content, shoot up or snort.

My questiont to Ms Boyd is, are you going to hand the drug dealer down the street a monthly check so he can sell more drugs to your grandchild?

If people on welfare are doing drugs, this means they are not capable of taking care of the children they have and the children should be in a place where they can be looked after. You also have to think of the children, what is best for them. So Ms Boyd, look at it with your eyes open, and not just in front of you but all around.

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 5:07pm Permalink
cherbs (not verified)

I think it is ridiculous that a hard working person has to submit to random drug testing, but someone that has never worked a day in his life and gets a check, insurance, food stamps, low income housing, light bill paid, etc., doesn't have to do anything but sit home and wait for their next check to come, from the government, in other words, the hard working person that has to submit to random drug testing. I know of MANY people that this applies to. I am in the hard working group, and I don't agree with random drug testing, but you do what you have to do to keep a job. Or some of us do anyway.

Sun, 04/18/2010 - 2:36pm Permalink
Key (not verified)

I have taken many drug test mandatory by my employer.....being that I work in health care, and hold people lives in my hand. I have NO problem submitting to random drug testing.

If you were my patient, and I had to put you on life support....would you be a little more comfortable knowing I was NOT impaired by drugs ?....or would you just rather my hospital did not do random drug screening, to keep you safe ?

I am on call 24 hrs a day, and YOUR life depends on people like next time you do something stupid while you are High on glad to know, we'll take care of you - while we are sober !

And yes, I do get paid for my if you are on Welfare and want $$ - take your argument to someone else because I don't want to hear want a check,. piss in the cup, or better yet - give us a hair sample !

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 8:42pm Permalink
emac (not verified)

Not everyone receiving benefits are lazy people. Think of the single mothers that are trying to do better but can't get ahead. ME for example. I am a full-time student, working roughly 30 hours a week. I live on my own with my 4 month old daughter. I pay EVERY bill with no help. And I have some government help because I can't work full-time, go to school full-time, and spend time with her and take care of her. I am not going to leave her with just anyone so I can work more and I have no family here. So I'm trying to make a better life for myself and her and feel guilty about government help when I see things like this. She has insurance bc my job doesn't offer benefits so I just pray nothing happens to me bc I have none. Some people may be lazy yes, but what about those of us who are really trying?! The drug test concept does not bother me at all. I'm thankful to get the assistance over someone who may not be trying. However, they children should still be able to get benefits through a third party or taken to a safer home if the parents are using drugs.

Fri, 07/23/2010 - 3:10pm Permalink
Stop lying to … (not verified)

In reply to by emac (not verified)

I'm sorry, but whose fault is it that you have a child?  Did your baby's daddy's semen just leap up into your vagina?  Just because you made a poor decision doesn't mean you should take to the internet on a crusade to convince people that you are the perfect example of a "responsible" welfare recipient.  Dumb decisions don't give you the right to free cash!

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 3:49pm Permalink
Anonymous28 (not verified)

 I am a single mother with four children. I go to school full time and I was just recently laid off from my job of six years. I agree with you Emac,not everyone who receives benefits are lazy. Don't get me wrong, I am not defending the ones who receive benefits and use them for other purposes instead of what they are for. I have no problem submitting to a drug test if asked. I feel like if you need the help, then you have to do what they ask of you in order to receive it, and they really do not ask a lot. The main requirements of the program is that you do try to get a job and better yourself for you and your family(something that you should be doing anyway). Let's all keep in mind that they only want to test the individuals who give them cause to believe that they are using drugs. Not everyone who receives benefits will be subjected to this. I understand the logic behind this whole thing, but will it really make a difference?

Sun, 12/26/2010 - 3:21pm Permalink
MO MOM (not verified)

I am not opposed to this but I can't imagine how the state would enforce and manage it.

I have to take random tests for employers so I fell this is similar.

I feel a once a year test random users could pass easily, monthly tests would be expensive.

It could have a devastating effect on some families who depend on taniff and are not able to be employed or hold employment due to drug addiction. IT might be more helpful to demand that those suspected of drug abuse join a rehab program and through that program submit to drug testing. Failure to complete the program as an outpatient would result in inpatient rehab. Offer Rehab &  treatment would have a much more long term effect.  Then if they refuse to complete treatment or are multiple offenders then take away the taniff until they get help.

Sat, 01/15/2011 - 10:39am Permalink
aqua85fy (not verified)

I think that ppl should get drug tested. if they need help then they shouldn't be able to afford drugs. Cause I'm sure they aren't cheap. like i said if you can afford to buy cigarettes, alcohol, and/or drugs then you don't need get food stamps and/or financial aid. I have been struggling and asked for help and didn't qualified by like  $50, yet i see ppl who are always drunk, high and what not and they are collecting food stamps and/or financial help. I'm all for getting ppl tested. 

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 11:53am Permalink
Mynamehere (not verified)

This is an excellent idea, but it needs to be expanded to this:
Anyone who is getting monies from a federal state ore local tax
needs to be screened for drugs and alcohol annually and subject to random
at a 25% rate. This is the very same policy that I have to work under in order
to pay the monies to support all of the welfare ppl, be it congressmen, or crackheads

As it was explained to me by my lawyer, "you don't have to do anything, but if you
want to make money off of these jobs, (fed, state, local funded) you must comply.
So bottom line is this. You don't have to take the drug tests unless you want the
But in order for this to really work, every single person who is paid by a government
agency must comply to these rules, period!
Fri, 01/28/2011 - 8:14pm Permalink
Mynamehere (not verified)

This is an excellent idea, but it needs to be expanded to this:
Anyone who is getting monies from a federal state ore local tax
needs to be screened for drugs and alcohol annually and subject to random
at a 25% rate. This is the very same policy that I have to work under in order
to pay the monies to support all of the welfare ppl, be it congressme

­n, or crackheads
As it was explained to me by my lawyer, "you don't have to do anything, but if you
want to make money off of these jobs, (fed, state, local funded) you must comply.
So bottom line is this. You don't have to take the drug tests unless you want the
But in order for this to really work, every single person who is paid by a government
agency must comply to these rules, period!
Fri, 01/28/2011 - 8:18pm Permalink
Mynamehere (not verified)

This is an excellent idea, but it needs to be expanded to this:
Anyone who is getting monies from a federal state ore local tax
needs to be screened for drugs and alcohol annually and subject to random
at a 25% rate. This is the very same policy that I have to work under in order
to pay the monies to support all of the welfare ppl, be it congressme

­n, or crackheads
As it was explained to me by my lawyer, "you don't have to do anything, but if you
want to make money off of these jobs, (fed, state, local funded) you must comply.
So bottom line is this. You don't have to take the drug tests unless you want the
But in order for this to really work, every single person who is paid by a government
agency must comply to these rules, period!
Fri, 01/28/2011 - 8:19pm Permalink
John Bastiat (not verified)

1. Employers that don't require a college degree, typically require drug testing.

2. Welfare is NOT a right, if you want to qualify for the program, you must meet the requirements.

3. If these people are so capable of taking care of themselves, why are they on public assistance?

4. Most people on public assistance that I personally know, are in fact drug addicts.

5. 35% of our nation is on food stamps, why are they my responsibility? I did not make the irresponsible decision to birth them or their offspring.

6. If they are going to collect off the public dolls, perhaps they should start mowing my local park and cleaning up trash off the side of the road. Simple tasks.

7. Lastly, what irritates me the most... is to see this woman collecting food stamps while she's making payments on a brand new car. I take care of my own business and drive a heap. Something is wrong with this picture. Rewarding the irresponsible.

Tue, 03/22/2011 - 1:46pm Permalink
DdC (not verified)

No Savings Are Found From Welfare Drug Tests
“Many states are considering following Florida’s example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn’t,”

Pisstasting is self-incrimination,  which also violates the Fifth Amendment. I know the drug war profiteer cowards and desperate probably care less. So accustomed to go along with the program. Yet I urge all to Boycott companies using this inaccurate method to weed out undesirables. Whistle-blowers and those questioning hazardous waste disposal methods or work safety measures are now at the mercy of the pisstaster. Treating employees like slaves or the most disgusting display of mean ugly people. Spending tax money harassing the most vulnerable, those needing assistance. Many times due to the same corporations outsourcing their jobs. The Norquesters whining like babies about taxes except those leaving the country to fight police actions or maintain the scores of DEA offices offices around the planet. Or now it seems neocons are ok spending our taxes sampling piss. The reason to Boycott these companies is simple. Do you really want to do business with someone who doesn't even know if someone is inebriated or being unsafe? If it requires a urine sample that is not accurate, does not account for other meds and thc retention for weeks in fat cells. Does nothing to remove shabby work or make employees safer. Just a sign that profits are the bottom line even if its quality assurance getting cut to make up for the loss of buying piss tasting kits. 

Boycott Businesses That Drug Test Their Employees

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Calvina Fay Prohibition Inc.
Anti-Drug Campaigns Dumb Down Vital Message
Calvina Fay is the Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) From 1976-1985 it was known as Straight, Inc. and had a reputation for abusing kids as a drug rehabilitation program. Mel Sembler and his wife Betty founded Straight, Inc. In 1985 it changed its name to Straight Foundation, Inc. in order to protect its money and its principals from civil suits. In 1995 it was changed again to Drug Free America Foundation. DFAF is a national and international drug policy think tank and provider of services for drug free work places...

The Politics of Pot


3 million children are taking stimulant drugs for ADHD (Meth)

Same denial and sabotage as the swiftbloated, fossil fools, birth/birchers, and prohibitionist fear mongers before (him?) Soulless creatures beyond pity. 5000 years of medicinal use including in the US is hardly so called. Banning research behind closed doors is a sure sign of corruption. Not for ideals, you lie and kill people with your lies over a paycheck. Leeches.

Pro Life? Not even anti abortionists... Like Sabotage following Kyl, his words aren't meant to be factual.

Pope calls for more killing... Aiding and abetting the drug war profiteers. At the end of the day nothing changes, except the profits for the Merchants and Cartels. All I can say to such vile co dependents as Chabot is by your perpetuating this war of lies you are doing serious harm to American citizens and the American Constitution. Your continuous tormenting of sick citizens causes  more terror than Al Qaeda. Stop this Un-American filthy practice. Rx and Hemp were never outlawed by the Marihuana Tax Act until Nixon refused his own Republican Commission and added them. For International Corporate interest stealing American jobs and lives. Sick, nasty traitor.

"Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy ... and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with 'scientific support' ... fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. ... The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents."
-- William F. Buckley,
Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495


Wed, 12/12/2012 - 10:38pm Permalink

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