Emphasis on Drug Use Ineffective

"An evaluation of a Florida drug testing pilot found that those welfare recipients who tested positive for drugs had similar employment outcomes as others on TANF. Florida’s drug screening and testing pilot for TANF was implemented from January 1999 to May 2001. A total of 8,797 applicants and recipients were tested and 335, or 3.8%, tested positive for a controlled substance. Florida State University conducted an evaluation of the pilot and found that there was very little difference in employment and earnings between those who tested positive versus those who tested negative and concluded that the cost of the program did not justify the outcomes achieved and the program did not warrant full implementation.44, 45 The study’s a review of the research evidence concluded that drug use is not a major barrier to employment for welfare recipients.46 The authors of the Florida study caution that a disproportionate emphasis on drug use as a barrier to employment could be ineffective if other major barriers, such as physical and mental health problems, lack of job skills, and lack of transportation, are ignored."


"Drug Testing Welfare Recipients: Recent Proposals and Continuing Controversies," Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Washington, DC: October 2011), p. 8.