Initially, 7,600 recipients and applicants were selected for screening. Out of that number, social workers referred a mere 2%, or only 89 subjects for drug testing. Of those 89, 21 people – over 22% - tested positive for drugs in their systems. This was less than 0.3% of the total number of those screened and had the percentages been applied to the entire 7,600, approximately 175 welfare users would have been found ineligible. This study appears to support the view of many that taxpayer funded welfare contributes substantially to addiction.
Social workers base their decision of who to test by looking at that individual’s drug history and criminal record. Anyone who can be shown to have used drugs in the past year or was convicted of a felony drug crime in the past three years gets tested. This excludes thousands of misdemeanor convictions, many of which are for simple drug possession but apparently mere possession does not give rise to a presumption of drug usage.
According to Melvin Purdy, who works with street addicts, “It is ludicrous that we aren’t testing more. The state is subsidizing addiction and it’s much easier to get welfare than treatment. To me, the system is designed to assure a certain sub-class of our society stays addicted. If they (the State) really wanted to address our drug problem they’d test all welfare applicants and refer those who test positive to treatment paid for by taxpayers. The taxpayer’s would get a better return on their money that just handing out endless welfare benefits.”
If adult applicants and recipients miss an appointment or test positive for drugs, the state can cut off their benefits except where children are present in the household and even then benefits can be reduced to reflect the proportion in a household using drugs.
Of the 21 people who tested positive for drugs in this latest round, 12 will receive reduced benefits because they are the sole support for children in their households.
Purdy says that many of these households still sell their EBT cards and use benefits meant to provide a safety net of minimal things needed to insure survival for these families in creative ways to get drugs.
“A lot of times, people in subsidized housing “rent” out their units to drug dealers who seek anonymity and like to move their operations around to avoid police. We’ve seen instances where children, even babies, are present in these apartments while the drug dealing is going on and, in a few cases, we’ve even seen young female children used as sexual providers to dealers by their own parents,” said Purdy with an element of disgust in his voice.
North Carolina enacted the current drug testing law in 2013 and it is applied to anyone receiving or applying for benefits from Work First, a state-run program that provides money, family support and training. There were a few legal entanglements and administration issues that caused a delay in implementation, but tests began in late 2015.
Purdy says the law, while well-intentioned is essentially too little applied too infrequently.
“It is a Band-Aid – a sop to taxpayers who should be outraged. We have created an entire generation of state supported drug addiction. There has to be a better way and the place to start is to require testing for all welfare applicants.”