Drug Test Law May Face Costly Legal Challenges Print
Written by Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD   
Sunday, 03 July 2011 09:14

IN MY OPINION

Attached a link to an article published recently in the Orlando Sentinel pointing out that a new state law requiring welfare applicants to be drug-tested goes into effect today.

The law stipulates that parents with minor children who request temporary cash assistance must undergo a drug test. The average benefit check per family is $240 a month with a lifetime limit of 48 months.

About 4,000 Floridians each month may be affected by the new law. The 93,000 state residents already receiving such benefits would not be affected unless they reapply. In addition all parents who test positive for drugs — including legal drugs not prescribed for the parent — will be reported automatically to the state's abuse hotline. Applicants will have to pay for the drug tests themselves, though those who test negative will be reimbursed in the first benefit check they receive. Those who test positive also would have the chance to get a second, more-sophisticated screening — at their own expense of up to $100 — and have an official medical review of the testing (MRO) .It is still unclear whether those expenses would be reimbursed if the applicant is ultimately cleared. The law may violate the constitutional standard requiring that the government must have reason to believe an individual is using drugs before demanding a test. Michigan, the only other state to pass a similar law, had it struck down in court. Therefore, it most probably will face a costly legal challenge on taxpayers’ expense!! Furthermore, by implementing this policy the state government should have provided drug treatment options for those welfare recipients with children who test positive for drugs. The new law falls short of this option, too.

In my opinion this new law is a bad idea which will face a long and costly court battle and will further divert scarce state resources from more important issues such as drug use prevention and treatment programs.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2011 09:47