Stigmatizing Welfare Recipients’ with “Unconstitutional” Drug Testing


In early 2015 state legislatures convened across the United States proposing further drug testing for applicants applying for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. The countries participating, with the Bill passed included Montana, West Virginia, Texas, Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

The intention behind the proposal was to drug test applicants for food stamps and also unemployment benefits in a hope to save money by “getting drug users off the dole and [other benefits].” But according to ThinkProgress, data collected hasn’t displayed such results to back up the savings claim.

The costs weighed up against the success rate differed in each state but nonetheless were astounding in their results:

welfare-drug-test-wide-01 welfare-drug-test-wide-02 welfare-drug-test-wide-04 welfare-drug-test-wide-05 welfare-drug-test-wide-06 welfare-drug-test-wide-07

More states have since considered the move to drug testing, with several passing laws throughout 2015. Some states, such as Arizona have stipulated as early as 2013 an amendment for those who had positive drug test results, that they would lose their benefits for a year; claiming to save the state $1.7 million annually.

Upon mid-year, legislation was passed over 13 states with a further 18 states proposing a requirement for similar laws. Wisconsin included a provision into the budget bill that would drug test individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training program, however the federal government has indicated this may go against federal laws prohibiting states from imposing further additional eligibility criteria.

In 2003 a Michigan Court of Appeals case ruled that “subjecting every welfare applicant in Michigan to a drug test without reason to believe that drugs were being used, was unconstitutional.” explored the issue of drug testing in late 2015, criticizing the move: “States already do a good job of ensuring no one gets a “free ride.” We don’t need another one–especially one that stigmatizes.” Social services have helped to stabilize families in much need during the recession, but it seems that the lines between rich and poor are growing larger, darker, and “harder to cross.”

For the low rate of applicants testing positive, the taxpayers’ money is arguably wasted in areas that could otherwise be directed into programs to provide further assistance. In 2003 and again in 2010 the very practice had been ruled unconstitutional. As Time explained, applying for welfare is a grueling task and one taken upon by a vast majority already working a part-time job. Add the humiliation of a drug test because eating is an unaffordable luxury; segregates and stigmatizes a social class that comprises of approximately 35.4 percent of the U.S. population.

This Article (Stigmatizing Welfare Recipients’ with “Unconstitutional” Drug Testing) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author AnonWatcher and



Get Your Anonymous T-Shirt / Sweatshirt / Hoodie / Tanktop, Smartphone or Tablet Cover or Mug In Our Spreadshirt Shop! Click Here



  1. This article leaves out a very important fact.

    only a very small number of the total welfare recipients of each state were actually tested. Articles with graphs presented like this suggest that all recipients were tested and only a few tested positive when this is simply not the case.

    • Who cares! It’s still unconstitutional and a waste of money people won’t save anyway because politicians spend it however they want.

    • Excuse me, but the graph CLEARLY states the number of recipients that were tested. Researchers in every field study smaller sample groups (of people, bacteria, shooting stars, etc.) to test a theory. And although this was not a tightly controlled study, comparing the number of people tested to the number of people who tested positive is a valid way to extrapolate the ratio of all people tested to those who will test positive. Thus the graphs make a strong point about the validity of spending large sums of money to identify a small number of drug users, who I assume would then be denied food, shelter, medical care, and other similar benefits. Seems that it would be difficult to survive much less overcome addiction in those circumstances.
      I think a greater return on investment would be to test police officers for drug use (as has been suggested recently in several quarters) since drug use by members of this group can directly impact the safety and welfare of the general populace. A study identifying the average number of officers who test positive for drugs would be a great public service and would be useful in developing programs to assist these officers in overcoming their addiction–unless, of course, they are denied food, shelter, medical care, and other similar benefits, at which point we can be almost sure they will not survive, much less find their way out of addiction.

  2. I noticed Oklahoma was the only one listed in the triple digits but is one of the harsher states on drug laws! What a total waste of taxpayer $$$$$.

  3. BS This is skewed in more ways then one. AND HOW EXACTLY is drug testing to get welfare or food stamps “unconstatutional”? Excuse me if I’m wrong but EVERYONE who works for their money has to be drug tested to work. IDK about you but I sure don’t want some Heroin addict in control when I’m on an operating table so I have no problem with people being drug tested. If you have to be tested to earn a living why should you not be to live off other people for free? I seriously think people need to sort out their priorities. Expecting our taxes to pay for people who are clean and at least employable is NOT unconstitutional nor unfair.

    • No not everyone has to be drug tested. Police officers, politicians, government officials of any kind. Our president doesn’t need drug tested, nor our Congress which makes laws. Even though 1/3 of Congress and House of Representatives have past drug offenses. Then beyond that you have fast-food workers, bankers, CEOs, teachers, and millionaire investors.

      But of course the poor guy who depends on American social systems for the poor needs tested. Why? Because if he fails this test we can look the other way and not give a shit.

  4. This article states “among recipients that applied” for benefits… so how many people simply stopped applying because they knew they were going to test positive. These graphs only show the people stupid enough to apply and fail a drug test.

  5. This article seems legit…”The COUNTRIES participating, with the Bill passed included Montana, West Virginia, Texas, Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.” Finally! The country of Texas is getting the recognition it deserves! Diddly-boop NASCAR!

  6. while drug testing welfare recipients sounds good, why not make these recipients go threw active job search and what not like you have to when collecting unemployment? to many drugs exit the system to fast, just giving people a loop hole… around my area i see a lot of people hooked on heroin, they then catch hepatitis and claim disability and get that and welfare.. like the government rewards you for being a moron!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here