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Brian Moorhouse
Mr. Davis
U.S. Government Period 4
October 16, 2016
Drug Testing Food Stamp Beneficiaries
As the great Ronald Reagan once said, We should measure welfare's success by how
many people leave welfare, not by how many are added. Under the Obama administration, the
number of people receiving food stamps has increased from 32 million to 46.3 million. The food
stamps program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), helps
provide food to people of low-income. Each SNAP beneficiary receives an average of $1,600 in
benefits each year. However, unlike most paying jobs, recipients are not currently susceptible to
drug testing. The federal government should require mandated drug tests for recipients of food
stamps, because it will save money, it helps the US crack down on drugs, and it helps people have
an added incentive to get rid of their addiction.
Drug testing food stamp recipients is less expensive than many will have you believe
so much so that it will actually save the US taxpayer money. With technology rapidly evolving,
drug tests are becoming cheaper and cheaper. By drug testing food stamp recipients, money will
be saved by kicking addicts off of the program, and therefore denying them benefits. The main
premise behind drug testing of welfare applicants is that the state will save money by kicking
drug addicts off of welfare and thereby denying them benefits (which they will presumably waste
on little more than supporting their drug habits) (Larsen). Drug testing food stamp recipients
helps save money by taking away benefits from those who do not truly need them. Through the
minimal cost of drug tests, we can screen out those who truly need food stamps and those who
dont. Many states have already put programs like this into placemost prominently Utah.
Utahs officials say that drug testing recipients of food stamps saved over $350,000 in the first
year alone (Price). Utahs drug testing program is a perfect example of how drug testing for
benefits saves money. By kicking hundreds of addicts off the program, the government can save a
lot of money.
Drug testing recipients of food stamps will also help the US fight drug use, as drugs trade
ruins lives across the country. While the vast majority of food stamps recipients are not addicts,
there is a minority that does struggle with drug addiction. This addiction may be what causes the
need for food stamps in the first place. The US is currently fighting a war on drugs, and has been
for many years. The US spends $50 billion per year trying to eradicate drugs from this country.
According to DEA estimates we capture less than 10 percent of all illicit drugs ("The United

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States War on Drugs"). While drug testing food stamp recipients may not be catching a lot of
drug users, it does help catch some more, without spending money. There is also a very clear
rationale behind drug testing food stamp recipients. "Because illegal drug use is linked to lower
levels of work, any serious effort to promote employment and self-sufficiency should include
steps to discourage illegal drug use within the welfare population. A well-designed drug testing
program would be an important tool in any effective welfare-to-work strategy" (Gritter).
Basically, even though not everyone on food stamps is doing drugs, it helps to deter drug use if
there is ever an option. Drug testing for food stamps is the perfect option. This is especially
necessary as the drug crisis in the US is growing. Currently in the US, about one of every ten
Americans is struggling with addiction (Writer). The problem of addiction in the US is ruins
millions of lives. In order to find these addicts help, we must first diagnose the problem. This is
where drug testing comes in.
While the everyday problems of addiction already make many addicts want to quit, drug
testing to receive food stamps is another incentive for them to find help. Many peoples need for
food stamps stem for their dependency on drugs. However, the only way to help these people is to
first figure out the problem. In the Utahs attempts to drug test recipients of food stamps,
Representative Brad Wilson said, "is to find out why those 250 people would rather not get
benefits and keep using drugs, and what we can do to maybe help them realize that is a poor
choice (Price). The biggest problem with some of these addicts is that their addiction is ruining
their lives. In the Utah case, 250 food stamps recipients decided to opt out of taking a drug test,
and denied their benefits. The conclusion from this is that they were most likely on drugs,
because there arent many reasons to deny your benefits. When people decide to choose drugs
over food, it becomes apparent that their addiction is very bad. The next step in this process is to
try and help these addicts find help, that way they can weed out their addiction. Data from the
2002 NSDUH show that about 22 percent of female welfare recipients used illicit drugs at least
once in the year before the survey (Pollack et al. 2002) ("NIAAA Publications"). While there are
some statistics saying that welfare recipients are the least likely to take illicit drugs out of any
group, there is also a lot of data saying the opposite. Since most people that qualify for food
stamps are those in poverty, it is actually very likely that many SNAP beneficiaries struggle with
drug use. It is proven that those under the poverty line struggle with drug addiction very badly
(Dixon). Drug addiction is a huge problem throughout the US. Drug testing food stamp recipients
will only help the problem.
Opponents of mandates drug tests for welfare programs claim it costs too much money,
and that it is unconstitutional. Many claim that the cost of drug tests for welfare recipients is

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extremely expensive, but they are not looking at the facts. With 45.7 million SNAP beneficiaries
in the fiscal year of 2015, and each beneficiary receiving on average over $1,600 in benefits over
the year, SNAP costs the government over 73 billion dollars in taxpayer money ("Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)."). And thanks to the nature of this bill, it should require
little to no cuts. Assuming .312% of users test positive, this will save enough money to balance
out the required funds for drug testing units. When people claim that drug tests cost too much, it
is because they arent looking for the most efficient units. Most drug testing units can cost less
than $10, and are even cheaper when purchased in bulk. The next argument that many claim is
that drug testing welfare recipients is unconstitutional. And yes, blanket drug testing with no
individualized reason for suspicion is unconstitutional (ACLU). However, if there is reasonable
suspicion for drug addiction, there are no legal problems. That is why states like Utah are allowed
to drug test their welfare recipients. Before they drug test them, the applicants must fill out a
questionnaire, in order to ensure there is no suspicion the applicants are on drugs. If there is any
suspicion, the state has a right to drug test applicants. And why shouldnt they? It only makes
sense that recipients of food stamps should be prone to drug tests, since many people in the
workplace (who are paying for their food stamps through taxes) are prone to drug tests as well.
Overall, many food stamp recipients are people who are truly struggling. However, it is
the few who neglect their need for food and decide to fall into the world of drugs that make it
necessary for the federal government to drug test the recipients of food stamps. Since food stamps
will save money, help the US fight drug trade, and help out addicts who need help, the federal
government needs to begin drug-testing recipients of food stamps. Ronald Reagan also once said
that we should measure welfare's success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many
are added. Drug testing food stamp recipients will help accomplish some of this success, and will
help the nation as a whole heal from the latest Recession. In order to save taxpayer money and
help struggling drug addicts, the federal government must start mandating drug tests for food
stamp recipients.

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Work Cited
Book
Associated, Press. "Utah Officials Say Welfare Drug Tests Save Money." AP Regional State
Report - Utah (2013): Points of View Reference Center. Print. 9 Sept. 2016.
Gritter, Matthew. "Reducing Enrollement Through Increased Compliance Requirements." The
Policy and Politics of Food Stamps and SNAP. Print.
Dixon, John, and David Macarov. Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality. London: Routledge,
1998. Print.
Websites
ACLU. "Drug Testing." American Civil Liberties Union. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/drug-testing
Larsen, Stephanie. "Should We Drug Test Welfare Recipients?" Snopes. Snopes, 13 Dec. 2015.
Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
http://www.snopes.com/should-we-drug-test-welfare-recipients/
"NIAAA Publications" U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine,
n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh291/63-67.htm
Price, Michelle L. "Utah's Welfare Drug Testing Saved More than $350,000 in First Year,
Officials Say." DeseretNews.com. 08 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765637435/Utah-officials-say-welfare-drug-testssave-money.html
"Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)." Food and Nutrition Service. Web. 18 Oct.
2016.
http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
"The United States War on Drugs" The United States War on Drugs. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/paradox/htele.html
Writer, By Join Together Staff. "New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug
Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R - Partnership for Drug-Free Kids."
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. 28 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
http://www.drugfree.org/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drugaddiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-r/