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North Carolina Has Begun Drug Testing Welfare Applicants

Testing is starting to show startling results.

The testing only applied to North Carolina’s Work First program which assists low-income families, and adults who receive aid must also participate in work requirements. Republican governor Pat McCrory initially vetoed the drug testing, but his veto was overridden by the legislature.

In his veto statement, McCrory said the legislature “overreached” with its drug testing requirement. McCrory also said the program is too costly.

“It’s almost impossible for us to have a consistent method and a fair method to implement such a measure in 100 counties in North Carolina,” the Gov. wrote. “I think it’s going to be legally tested, and frankly, it costs too much to do. You won’t get return on your money.”

“This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse,” McCrory insisted.

The implementation of the law went into effect in August of 2015 after objections were eased and funds were added to the budget to pay for the program.

Now early  results are in, with only 2 percent of the 7,600 applicants referred for drug testing. Of the 89 applicants referred out, 21, or almost a quarter, testing positive for illegal drugs. But an additional 70 applicants who were told they would be tested never showed up for their appointments, and therefore did not receive benefits. That means of the 159 applicants who were told they had to take a drug test, 57% tested positive or failed to appear.

And yet, critics of the program, such as Democratic State Senator Gladys Robinson say the testing is ineffective and too expensive. The cost for each test is $55, which could be decreased dramatically by using in-office testing as a preliminary screen with a cost of around $2 per test. Those testing positive could the be referred out. But some are still determined to give taxpayer dollars to those who refuse to change their behavior. It is not their money. It is not free money. Senator Robinson, D-Guilford said:

“They found very few applicants. Plus, the process is already in place in terms of asking questions and making those referrals [to drug treatment programs],” Robinson told WRAL. “So, we just wasted state dollars, in terms of that piece of legislation and in terms of the time and staff all across the state.”

This is not a waste of money. This prevented drug abusers from obtaining taxpayer dollars to fund their lifestyle. It announced to drug users that they would not be supported by the public if they continue to use drugs. It showed that illegal drug use is not okay, and will not be sanctioned by the state or the people. Personal responsibility should be expected, and politicians who do not require it from benefit recipients are clearly derelict in their duty.