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Oklahoma Governor Signs Welfare Drug Test Bill

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Urine SampleOklahoma Gov Mary Fallin signs Welfare Dug Testing Legislation

By Phillip Smith

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) Wednesday signed into law a bill, House Bill 2388, that requires welfare applicants to be screened for possible drug use and drug tested upon suspicion they are using. They would be denied benefits if they test positive. The screening requirement is designed to surmount constitutional objections to mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of public benefits applicants and recipients.

In the past two years, two states, Florida and Georgia, have passed laws requiring mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants. The Florida law has been blocked by a federal judge’s temporary order as she considers whether to declare it an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendments proscription against warrantless searches. Civil liberties and civil rights advocates in Georgia have vowed similar action against the law there when it goes into effect July 1. An earlier Michigan attempt to impose suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients was found unconstitutional by a divided federal appeals court it 2003. That ruling was not appealed.

Several other states have passed public benefits drug testing laws with a screening process to create “reasonable suspicion” that a given individual might be a drug user. Those include Arizona and Missouri last year and Utah and Tennessee this year. The Tennessee bill has yet to be signed by the governor, but he has said he will do so. None of these state laws have yet faced legal challenges.

The Oklahoma law takes effect November 1 and is aimed at adults applying for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Applicants who refuse to take the drug test or who test positive will be denied benefits. Applicants who test positive and then undergo a drug treatment program — at their own expense — can reapply for benefits after six months.

Child-only cases and cases where the parent is underage would not have to be drug tested. If a parent is denied benefits, the bill allows for payments to be made to an alternative payee.

Under an amendment passed in the Senate, the state will pay for the cost of drug testing. The bill originally called for applicants to pick up the tab.

“House Bill 2388 will help ensure welfare checks are not being used to pay for drugs. Hard working taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to subsidize drug abuse, and this bill will help to ensure they are not,” Fallin said in a signing statement.

“Additionally, HB 2388 helps to preserve the mission of state-funded welfare — to provide a social safety net helping the unemployed and needy get back on their feet, find work and support their families,” the Republican governor continued. “Unfortunately, drug abuse prevents many recipients of welfare from achieving any of these goals. Drug addiction and illegal drug use contribute to child abuse and child neglect. They also make it difficult to find and hold a job. For all these reasons it is important for drug users and those with substance abuse problems to seek treatment rather than simply being handed a check from Oklahoma taxpayers.”

Oklahoma Democrats opposed the bill, with Sen. Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah) calling it “poor policy” and “mean-spirited” during earlier debates, and Sen. Tom Ivester (D-Sayre) questioning why only one population that receives state assistance should be subjected to drug testing. But their Republican colleagues weren’t listening.

Article From StoptheDrugWar.orgCreative Commons Licensing

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4 Comments

  1. I was wondering when someone was gonna address this, I see this in Denver too. I’ve been growing for years & have my own special ingredients I’ve been using & its funny when they don’t what their really talkin about trying to convince me my way won’t work when it has been supplying me for yrs. Thanks for making light of this & fakers heed this warning!

  2. I think you’ve conquered that subject wonderfully. There are alot of fakes out there and people who wanna be because they can’t be real to themselves. If you can’t be real to yourself, please do us all a favor. Put your stories in a book and tell some one who cares, and maybe just maybe while your running for a government position someone will believe you.

  3. Mpolvere216 on

    How can you become an activist full time? I live in CT and just quit a 70k a year job, mostly cuz it sucked but really because I want to peruse a career in Cannabis. I was getting ready to move when CT just recently passed the most strict medical marijuana law of all the previous 16 medical cannabis states. I am a avid grower as well and grow, what I am told is top shelf for most people the best bud they have smoked to date. Needless to say with this skill set I intend to push forward however I would appreciate some advice because this itch won’t go away. I’m pretty much obsessed with the ancient gift to humanity and seek to unveil its true potential beyond smoking the flower.

  4. Sandy augusta on

    a yong man was kill drug test was done on victim so they found small amount of thc  so reporters and  lawyers 4 the man who did the shooting now say the young man had smoke weed so therefor he was crazy really i smoke 4 30 years i must b past crazy i should b insane

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