Mississippi has become the latest state to approve drug testing welfare recipients. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) will now require new applicants to submit a questionnaire that will evaluate the likelihood of substance abuse, as well as require applicants to submit to drug testing if their responses deem them as likely substance abusers. The state will use roughly $36,000 in earmarked federal funds for the questionnaire and testing.
Testing positive once would require a TANF recipient to undergo treatment for substance abuse. A second positive test would result in being kicked out of the program for 90 days and a third positive test would result in a one-year suspension.
Mississippi now becomes the 11th state to approve drug testing welfare recipients. However, even a cursory look at the states already employing such measures has revealed that results for the programs have been lackluster, and ultimately cost more money than they save while failing to weed out drug abusers that may be enrolled in the welfare system
Last January, Florida’s welfare drug testing program was removed after being deemed unconstitutional. Judge Mary S. Scriven struck down the mandatory welfare drug testing and said there is “no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott expressed disappointment in the ruling afterwards, declaring in a statement that “we should have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families – especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children.”