The debate on drug testing for welfare cash assistance is spreading to other states. Our report showed that about one in ten in Florida are denied cash welfare for a drug-related reason in the first month of the program.
The ACLU has suggested that a questionnaire, Arizona’s current policy, is better model.
So I called to see how the Arizona program is working. It has been in place a couple years. Current Arizona law requires that an applicant answer three questions about whether he or she illegally uses drugs as part of the welfare cash assistance application. According to the Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee (as of September 15, 2011), only 18 people have voluntarily disclosed that they use illegal drugs. Those 18 people were mandated to get a drug test. Only 8 of the 18 actually got the test and only 1 tested positive.
One would conclude that a questionnaire is ineffective at accurately predicting drug use (only 1 in 8 stating yes actually tested positive). But it does prove the point in our report, that most of those illegally using simply don’t get the required test rather than risk a positive drug result (in Arizona 10 opted not to get the test compared to the 1 testing positive for drug use).