There are narrow-minded sorts who think that the government should require recipients of government assistance to undergo drug testing as a condition of receiving that money. The Detroit Free Press has come out against such an unfair scheme--after all, the last time some Michigan counties tried this, "screening for PCP, marijuana, cocaine, opiates and amphetamines. Only about one in 10 of the applicants tested positive." The Shekel points out:
If the results are possible to extrapolate to the welfare recipient population as a whole, then 1 in 10 of them are using government funds for illegal purposes. That IS a problem.
Never-mind that drug use is likely one of the reasons the person may be on government assistance in the first place, as a drug habit that interferes with their ability to work and have a productive life.This is a rather core problem, isn't it? I have a sister-in-law who spent many years, off and on, collecting AFDC in the 1980s and 1990s, because her husband never let a job get in the way of his alcohol, marijuana, and speed problem. I asked her how common this problem was among other AFDC recipients she knew in the Sacramento area. She told me that did not know any families where this was not the core reason for being on AFDC: usually fathers, but sometimes mothers, for whom drug dependency took precedence over work.
One of the reasons that I have become increasingly concerned about the social costs of decriminalization of all drugs is that there are a lot of people for whom substance abuse (including legal drugs, such as alcohol), are at the core of many other destructive behaviors. Adding more intoxicants to the list of legal drugs likely will reduce crime associated with prohibition, but lower purchase prices, and increase the number of those who are dependent. Whether decriminalization is a net gain or not for a society is hard to tell in advance, because you cannot easily calculate what is going to happen:
1. How much will drug prices drop?
2. How many existing addicts will increase consumption because of lower prices?
3. How many new addicts will be created because lower prices encourage experimentation?