Oklahoma has squandered millions of dollars drug testing applicants for welfare over the past five years, with just a minimal percentage testing positive.
Since Oklahoma implemented a policy for drug testing applicants of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds in 2012, the state has spent over $2.2 million administering such tests. Out of 19,878 individuals drug tested under the new law, just 2.8% tested positive for drug use.
As part of the law, those applying for welfare are mandated to complete a drug screening. Those deemed likely to be drug users must then undergo a drug test; those testing positive for an illegal substance are banned from receiving funding for at least a year, unless they seek treatment in which case the ban is reduced to six months.
In 2014 the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that a similar program in Florida is unconstitutional. The court concluded that there’s no evidence to explain why it’s necessary to force individuals seeking welfare to submit to unreasonable search in order to receive aid, and suggested that the policy plays on stereotypes.