Last week, the political blustering of federal lawmakers once again resulted in a law that unfairly targets marijuana users without any proof of effectiveness. On Friday, Congress reached a payroll and benefits deal that allows states to drug test any person applying for unemployment benefits if that person is looking for work in a field where drug testing is commonplace.
Thankfully, states have the option to not take part in this plan. The recent surge in states considering such policies, however, may mean that they may soon become much more common.
Florida’s experience with drug testing people applying for public benefits should have been a wake-up call for lawmakers. After passing a bill requiring unemployment beneficiaries to submit drug tests, Florida authorities soon discovered that not only was drug use extremely rare among those applying for assistance, but drug testing was actually costing the taxpayers more money! The whole point of the law was to decrease costs, so that tough-on-crime politicians could grandstand about how tax dollars in their districts aren’t buying drugs for lazy people.
Congress really needs to stop wasting its time worrying about the tiny percentage of people on public assistance that are marijuana users and instead consider all the taxpayer money they are wasting by arresting people for marijuana use at all.