Nevada Lawmakers Propose Drug Testing for Public Assistance

Drug testing for assistance or benefits is hardly new. Florida, in April 2011, proposed such a requirement for welfare, and since that point, the bill went into effect. In December 2011, drug testing for unemployment benefits was proposed on a national level but, unlike the earlier Florida bill, has yet to be applied on a greater scale.

Nevada is the latest state to consider such legislation. Revealed earlier in February, the bill, if passed, would require mandatory drug testing for those currently on public assistance, including welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid. Essentially, individuals currently receiving assistance would be tested, and if the results are positive and if the individual refuses treatment, assistance would be denied.

The process would go like this. Nevada citizens currently receiving assistance, with the exception of a few select groups, would be tested. Those whose results come back positive would be required to enter a state treatment program to continue receiving assistance. If the individual does not want to enter treatment, he or she would no longer receive assistance. Or, if he or she, after receiving treatment, takes and fails another drug test, the individual would no longer receive food stamps, welfare, or a similar program.

As KTNV points out, certain groups would be exempt from mandatory drug testing, if the bill passes, including those with prescriptions for medical marijuana or other medications and those 65 years old or older.

As of now, seven other states have legislation requiring drug testing in some form for public assistance.

Where do you stand regarding drug testing and public assistance? Should recipients of welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, or similar programs be routinely required to pass a background check? Should such individuals needing assistance be required to pass one before receiving assistance at all? And, what about unemployment benefits? At what point, if at all, do such screenings go too far?