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Topics Homepage> States should require drug tests to receive welfare benefits.

States should require drug tests to receive welfare benefits.

PRO (2 assertions)


1--The intentions for drug testing the welfare applicants was to save money, but did you know that these drug tests actually cause the U.S. to lose money? Almost none of the applicants actually were positive for drugs.

2--Governor Rick Scott stated, “To me it’s real simple: money is going to go to the benefit of children, not a parent using drugs.” Arthenia L. Jyner, a democratic leader in the State Senate said, “There are millions of people seeking aid from the state for the first time because they have lost their jobs and they still have children to feed and bills to pay. These people now are having to suffer the indignity of having to undergo a drug test.”


  • Taxpayers’ money used incorrectly--No matter what, you need to help drug users. Although what they did was illegal, the government must help them nonetheless. Does the government starve those in prison? No, because it is immoral. So why should we starve these drug users? It is illogical and the taxpayers’ money must be used to help these people and their families.

  • Use it to buy more drugs--This is a completely assumption without any statistics or evidence.

  • Deter drug use--This is an assumption without any statistics or evidence. The welfare applicants can figure out when the tests are and not take them. Therefore, they should show up negative, so drug tests wouldn’t change anything.

  • Saves money--Refuted by our third point.

  • The majority of the people believe that there should be drug tests--According to USA Today, 23 states require drug testing. However, these choices are made by the state representatives, who are taxpayers. Since they pay taxes, too, they will choose to support whichever side will benefit taxpayers more. In this case, they will choose to support the drug testing. Clearly, this judgment is unfair and shouldn’t be a point which proves why there should be drug testing.

  • Fight drug problems--The welfare applicants have the ability to figure out when the tests are so that they can stop taking drugs for that period of time. Then, they will not show up positive on the drug tests, so they will receive the welfare benefits. This is rigging the system and doesn’t accurately show if the welfare applicants take drugs or not. Therefore, the drug tests do not affect or change anything.

1. Assertion: The taxpayer's money is being used incorrectly.

Reasoning: The money for the welfare benefits comes directly from the wallets of taxpayers, people who abide by the law. Since the money that goes to the drug addicts will most likely go towards drugs, we are promoting illegal drug use. The taxpayers are hardworking people who work hard to earn their money and want it to go towards improving the country. By promoting drugs, that is in no way improving the country, but rather making it worse. The people who are found positive for drug tests are criminals who have broken the law. They simply do not deserve the welfare benefits, as they have not complied with the laws, and therefore, the government should not have to comply with their requests for welfare benefits.

Evidence: Working people today work very hard to make ends meet, and it just doesn't seem fair to them that their tax dollars go to support illegal things,” said Ellen Brandom, a Republican state representative in Missouri. In Colorado, state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg is sponsoring a bill that would require applicants for his state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pay for and pass a drug test before getting government help. 'If you have enough money to be able to buy drugs, then you don't need the public assistance,' he said. I don't want tax dollars spent on drugs.” As Alabama state representative Kerry Rich put it, I don't think the taxpayers should have to help fund somebody's drug habit.” Representative Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma stated, Law-abiding citizens should not have their tax payments used to fund illegal activity that puts us all in danger.”

Impact: What is the point of taking someone's valuable money which was earned with hard work just to help those who will take the money for illegal acts? This is completely illogical and unfair. Taxpayers money should not go towards promoting illegal drug usage.

Source: USA Today article, States consider drug testing welfare recipients”; New York Times article, States Adding Drug Test as Hurdle for Welfare”; Representative Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma

2. Assertion: Implementing the drug tests for welfare benefits will deter drug usage.

Reasoning: Obviously, drugs are something that you are addicted to. If you are addicted to something, you will do whatever you can to get it. In this case, drug addicts who are applying for welfare benefits will take the money from their welfare benefits and use it to buy more drugs. If we deny these people welfare benefits, they will try to get back on the right track in order to receive the benefits. They will realize that by not taking drugs, they can get their welfare benefits and live a better life. This is giving them an incentive to get off of drugs. It is simple logic to realize that these people want to save themselves and their children. Knowing that they will be tested at random, the drug users will stop so that they can receive the benefits.

Evidence: Representative Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma stated that addicts will have the incentive to get treatment. This is definitely true because these random drugs tests serve as an incentive for the applicants to stop. If they are tested and show positive for drugs, they will be denied the welfare benefits for their families and themselves, so this will cause them to stop so that they can receive these benefits.

Impact: If we are stopping something that is illegal, then there is no possible harm done. By deterring usage, we will be able to fix the lives of those who have made bad choices and give them another chance at a good life.

Source: Representative Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma

CON (3 assertions)


1--Did you know that 68% of people believe that states should require drug tests to receive welfare benefits, whereas only 27% believe that they shouldn’t while 5% are not sure? This is sourced from the Public Agenda.

2--Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time.





States--the 50 states located in the United States, where all of the US laws are in effect


Drug tests--a random test every 3 months for up to 30% of the welfare applicants


Welfare benefits--items given to unemployed citizens who are not able to support themselves or their families once a month, such as food stamps, childcare assistance, or basic cash




1) Taxpayers’ money not wasted


2) Deter drug use


Weighing Mechanism:


This debate will be weighed on which decision would deter drug usage the most and use the taxes in the best way possible.





  • Wastes money--Implementing drug testing for welfare applicants is actually saving money, not losing money. Arizona has implemented the drug tests, and they have saved $116,000 a month. The cost of a drug test is only $12. The money saved outweighs the money spent, so it is clear that these drug tests save money. This is sourced from the New York Times.

  • Privacy--Approximately $488 billion is spent per year on welfare, according to Don’t you think that all this money shouldn’t be wasted on making drugs a larger problem in the country? The government should have the right to test the individuals to ensure that they are not spending money on promoting drugs. Therefore, we would create a safer and drug-free environment for the country. The government should be able to help fix the country and improve it.

  • Unconstitutional (Rights)--This is a should topic, which means that the U.S. should require DNA tests for welfare benefits because it is the right thing to do. The U.S. is in dire need of these drug tests, as we have proven. If it is unconstitutional, then the constitution needs to be amended. The drug tests are necessary, so instead of not having them at all, we should amend the constitution to allow the tests.

  • Need to help kids--If these parents test positive for drug tests, the children shouldn’t live with them. These children need to be protected and away from drug addicts. They should be aided by the Child Protective Services or some other organization which will increase their safety.

  • Discrimination--It is key to choose which choice will help the greater good of the people. In Florida, there were around 1000 people who applied for welfare benefits. The population of Florida in 19,057,000 people. Shouldn’t we choose whichever decision will benefit the greater number of people? These 19,056,000 people who pay taxes should be able to have their taxes used correctly and live in a safe, drug-free environment. By denying welfare for some of the applicants, we can help the greater number of people.

  • Unfair test (Only positive or negative)--Even if you took drugs once, you are still breaking the laws. If someone who only took drugs once felt that they should not be treated the same as someone who took it multiple times, they need to realize that they still had bad judgment and broke the law. If someone robs a bank once, they are still sent to jail. Why should it be any different for taking drugs? Drugs are also illegal, so it is illogical to believe that those who take it once shouldn’t be denied their welfare benefits.

  • Can not take drugs right before so they will show negative--The two most commonly used drugs are marijuana and cocaine. Both stay in your system for up to 90 days. Clearly, it is not possible for someone to rig the system unless they don’t take it for three months before their test. However, since we defined drug testing as a random drug test, it would be impossible for these drug users to know when the tests are and therefore, they would show positive for drugs if they were tested.

  • Government job to look out for everyone--The government is supposed to look out for the taxpayers and the good people. Why should the government look out for those who are illegal and break the laws frequently? Others who break the laws by committing crimes are punished for their wrongdoings because they are sent to jail. Shouldn’t these drug users be punished, too? It is completely illogical to punish some and not others. Thus, the government does not need to help those who do illegal things.


1. Assertion: The government would be wrong if they do not give welfare to those who are positive for drugs.

Reasoning: The government's job is to look out for its people, regardless of who they are. Although it is wrong for the people to take drugs, it is equally as wrong for the government to deny welfare for those in need. The government is not fulfilling all of its duties as a government. It is the government's job to comply with the social contract that they agreed to with the citizens. In this social contract, the government agreed to take care and protect these people; in return the people would be loyal to the government. Being positive for drug testing doesn't justify the government denying the citizens' rights.

Evidence: The Declaration of Independence clearly states, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” How is it at all equal to not give welfare to some, yet give it to others? It is clear that the government is discriminating against those who take or took drugs.

Impact: The government needs to give rights to all the citizens, and by not giving welfare to those who need, the government is wrong.

Source: The Declaration of Independence

2. Assertion: Drug testing is not fair.

Reasoning: Drug tests either show positive or negative, they cannot show how frequent you take drugs or how much you've taken. Perhaps you took drugs once and you realized the harmful effects, but you would still be classified on the same level as someone who takes drugs everyday, making drug testing completely unfair. Instead, the government should give welfare to all those in need because it is clear that they are denying the rights of the people if the people aren't given welfare. Innocent people can also be accused of taking drugs and later being denied their rights because of being secondhand high.” The majority of these people who need welfare live in bad neighborhoods and communities. If everyone in their neighborhood smokes marijuana and they are frequently exposed to it, they can become secondhand high. This is sourced from USA Today.

Impact: Innocent people who have been accused of taking drugs when they never did will be pushed aside and not given the welfare that they need. These people who live in unfavorable conditions, and they can die without the welfare. What's the point of having innocent citizens dying? Clearly, there shouldn't be drug testing for welfare.

Source: USA Today

3. Assertion: Since only a small amount of people actually are positive for drugs, too much money is wasted for these people; in fact, more money is spent for the tests than money that is saved from not giving these drug users welfare.

Reasoning: Many believe that drug testing is useful for saving money because those who take drugs should not get welfare money. However, it has actually been proven that money is wasted because the costs of the drug tests are way higher than the money that is saved.

Evidence: One of the states that has implemented this drug testing for welfare benefits is Florida. Since July 2011, only 2% of the people actually had positive results for drugs, whereas the remaining 98% did not take any drugs. Within a year, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $98,400. However, the money spent for the tests would be $178 million this year. Therefore, $177,901,600-$177,959,200 would be wasted. Clearly, this plan is backfiring and only making us lose money. This is all sourced from the Tampa Bay Online, article Welfare drug-testing yields 2% positive results”

Impact: In the long run, if we implement this, the country will lose money, and do the complete opposite of what our original intentions were. With our current economic situation, we cannot afford to lose money. What we need to focus on is saving money, but by implementing this, we are downright losing money.

Source: Tampa Bay Online, article Welfare drug-testing yields 2% positive results”