Goshen News, Goshen, IN

April 17, 2013

Drug testing not about welfare


THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — It appears our GOP-controlled state Legislature is fully prepared to follow the folly of Florida.

In 2011 Florida Gov. Rick Scott — whose wife owns a network of Florida clinics that profit from drug testing — signed a law requiring all welfare recipients to be drug tested. It turned out that only 2.6 percent of the recipients tested positive — mostly for marijuana use. In the short time before the courts struck down the law, Florida had spent $113,000 on the tests, $595,000 in court-ordered retroactive benefits, and by July 2012 had already spent $88,783 defending the program in court. It would have been cheaper to just pay the 2.6 percent their welfare benefits.

But the whole point was to make money for the testing clinics, not save the taxpayers of Florida any money.

The same holds true for Indiana. LabCorp, Abbot Laboratories and other members of DATIA (Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association) started doing a sales campaign on employers to do drug testing in the late 1980s. By 2006, 84 percent of American employers were testing their workers. But the tests are largely ineffective. The body flushes out the byproducts of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin within a day, while the carboxy-THC of marijuana lingers for up to a week. So while catching the casual user of marijuana, users of harder drugs and alcohol often slide through.

Now fewer than 60 percent of employers use the tests and that percent declines every year.

This creates a profit problem for the members of DATIA, and they are throwing mega lobbying money at GOP state legislatures throughout the country. The whole point is to take taxpayer money and give it to companies that fund the politicians’ campaigns, to increase their profits. It really has nothing to do with welfare.

— Rex Hooley