Required Drug Tests for CA Welfare Recipients?

On the topic of required drug tests, random and required drug tests could become a possibility for California welfare recipients under a new bill proposed in April of this year. In an article published recently, bill SB384 was proposed by a state senator to have California residents currently receiving Welfare to submit to random drug tests to prevent, ultimately, welfare money from going to drugs and from drug-addicted or using welfare recipients giving birth to babies with health problems resulting from drug use.

If this bill is passed not only will state welfare recipients be required to submit to a drug test but, if the results of a drug test come out positive, the welfare recipient will either have to enter a drug treatment program or risk losing welfare benefits. The cost of the drug tests will be paid for by the state.

The question arises from this article, are these drug tests unconstitutional? Can universal drug tests for all California welfare recipients be legal or should an indication of drug use prompt a drug test?

The application of these drug tests mirror employment drug screenings rather than pre-employment drug screenings, as no one requesting to go on welfare in California, at least according to this bill, needs to submit to a drug test before receiving welfare. However, much like a job candidate may need to submit to a random drug test at some point to prove that, in order to keep his or her job, he or she needs to be free of drugs and alcohol.

TSB384 has only been proposed at this point and, while the bill itself has positive intentions of making sure those on welfare aren’t using their money for drugs and aren’t exposing children to drugs, some changes in regards to when, why, and how a drug test may be needed should be taken into consideration before the bill becomes a law.