Tests Show Few Utah Welfare Applicants Use Drugs

Since Utah's new law requiring drug screening for welfare applicants went into effect last August, the state has spent more than $26,000 looking for drug users among 4,400 applicants. Of those applicants, about 400 were identified after taking a written test as having a "reasonable likelihood" that they were using drugs.
July 12, 2013
 

Since Utah's new law requiring drug screening for welfare applicants went into effect last August, the state has spent more than $26,000 looking for drug users among 4,400 applicants.

Of those applicants, about 400 were identified after taking a written test as having a "reasonable likelihood" that they were using drugs.

Drug tests performed on those 400 people found only nine who tested positive, according to data from the Department of Workforce Services, which administers the benefits and tests.

The ACLU and a longtime welfare advocate in Utah that opposed the policy say the law unfairly stigmatizes poor people and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The numbers, which represent data from August 2012 through June 2013, were first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

Utah is one of at least eight states that have passed legislation requiring testing or screening for public assistance applicants, and similar laws have been proposed in at least 29 states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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