North Carolina started drug testing its welfare recipients and learned something totally unexpected

Savings or Not, Welfare Drug Testing Laws Are Gaining Steam

North Carolina has joined a growing list of states that have spent huge sums of money to drug test welfare recipients in order to make sure they weren't wasting government money on drugs -- only to find out that they rarely use drugs.

The state launched the program in August, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently revealed to Vox that 0.3 percent of the approximate 7,600 applicants and recipients screened for drug abuse tested positive for drug use.

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Other states have seen similar results. A mere 0.17 percent of the 39,121 applicants tested in Tennessee were found to be using illicit drugs, according to the Tennessean. In Arizona, more than 87,000 welfare recipients went through drug testing and only one person tested positive, USA Today reports.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 13 states drug test welfare recipients and another 19 states have proposed similar legislation.

Click through to see which states give drug tests to welfare recipients:

States that drug test welfare recipients
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North Carolina started drug testing its welfare recipients and learned something totally unexpected


Photo credit: Getty 

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Monument Valley, Utah, United States, North America

This type of legislation was introduced in 2009 by GOP state Rep. John Kavanagh. "We don't want people who are abusing drugs to be on welfare because that means that the taxpayers are subsidizing and facilitating illegal drug use," he said to the Arizona Republic that year.

Proponents of these bills believe states can save money by getting drug users who they believe spend government money on drugs, out of the welfare system. But critics argue that these lawmakers solely want to shame the poor.

Do you think states should give drug tests to welfare recipients?

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