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South Dakota House Rejects Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

Location: 
SD
United States
The South Dakota House rejected a bill that would have forced drug tests on welfare recipients to determine their eligibility. The measure failed on a vote of 32-36 after opponents said it would be impractical and would provide little help to children in poor families.
Publication/Source: 
KCAU (IA)
URL: 
http://www.kcautv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13986224

Iowa Legislative Panel Rejects Plan Linking Welfare to Drug Tests

Location: 
IA
United States
A legislative panel has rejected a proposal to require people to pass a drug test before being eligible for state welfare benefits. Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, had proposed the requirement, but a subcommittee blocked the bill because of questions about how it would be implemented.
Publication/Source: 
Sioux City Journal (IA)
URL: 
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/article_c262d876-2f07-11e0-a203-001cc4c002e0.html

Where's the Outrage Over 'Wrong-Door' Drug Raid? (Opinion)

Location: 
Spring Valley, NY
United States
Bob Goldberg opines on the surprise early morning raid by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Spring Valley police which terrorized an innocent Spring Valley family asleep in their home.
Publication/Source: 
The Journal News (NY)
URL: 
http://www.lohud.com/article/20110126/OPINION/101260312/1076/OPINION01/Where+%27s%20the%20outrage%20over%20+%27wrong-door+%27%20drug%20raid

Family Home Stormed in Another Botched Drug Prohibition SWAT Raid

Location: 
36 Sharon Drive
Spring Valley, NY 10977
United States
Another police raid and yet another innocent family caught up in a failed drug prohibition war that sends heavily armed, masked and hyped up cops in search of largely nonviolent offenders. This time the raid happened in Spring Valley, New York, and left a 13-year-old child vomiting and gasping for air in an asthma attack triggered by the over-the-top and misdirected actions of police and DEA agents.
Publication/Source: 
Change.org (DC)
URL: 
http://criminaljustice.change.org/blog/view/family_home_stormed_in_another_botched_swat_raid

Welfare Drug Testing Bills Introduced in Four States [FEATURE]

drug testing lab -- corporate welfare carrying out an ineffective strategy?
Critics of welfare drug testing cite unconstitutionality of warrantless drug testing, the cost of drug testing tens or hundreds of thousands of people, counterproductive results and mean-spiritedness in opposing legislation that would require it. But that hasn't stopped legislators from coming back again and again.

With this year's state legislative season barely under way, bills have been introduced in four states -- Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oregon -- to require drug testing for people receiving public assistance. And in a novel twist, a bill in Indiana would require unemployment recipients to declare they are not using illegal drugs and threatens them with up to three years in prison for perjury if they are found to be using them.

But while such bills may be popular with politicians of a certain stripe, they don't find much support among professionals in the field. Groups that have lined up against such bills include the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, the National Health Law Project, the National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the National Black Women’s Health Project, the Legal Action Center, the National Welfare Rights Union, the Youth Law Center, the Juvenile Law Center, and the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which successfully litigated against Michigan's welfare drug testing law, has also come down strongly against welfare drug testing. Such laws are "scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound," in the ACLU's opinion. The group cites studies showing welfare recipients are no more likely to use drugs than the rest of the population and that 70% of illicit drug users are employed. It also cites research showing that drug testing is an expensive, but ineffective way to uncover drug abuse. (Full citations and more information are available at the ACLU link above.)

But the kicker for the ACLU is the unconstitutionality of warrantless drug testing by the state, as determined by the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Michigan case. Michigan was the only state to actually implement a welfare drug testing program, but the appeals court found that the program violated the Fourth Amendment's provision barring unreasonable searches.

The persistence of such attempts is drawing concern from the drug reform community as well. Given the fiscal pressures facing the states, legislators could be even more susceptible to pseudo-populist demagoguery than usual.

"I am quite concerned that recurring legislative proposals to require drug testing of welfare and/or unemployment applicants and beneficiaries will gain new momentum with the budget crises confronting so many states, and also in Congress," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The proposals are mean-spirited, counter-productive and will ultimately cost much more than they save by depriving needy Americans of access to benefits. DPA will do all it can to ensure that these proposals do not become law."

"These kinds of laws aren't going to stop someone who is addicted from being addicted," said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. "They're just going to drive them further away from getting any kind of help. Also, it is often poverty that causes the stress that helps create addiction. If you make someone poorer, you just deepen that despair," he pointed out.

"If you really want to deal with the problem of addiction, provide treatment on demand," Wexler offered. "And if people are worried that not everyone will take advantage of it, let's put that to the test. Make drug treatment immediately available and see if the claim that people will turn it down has any merit."

But nobody is offering treatment on demand. Instead, legislators are offering up a stick with no carrot.

In Kentucky, a bill championed by Rep. Lonnie Napier (R-Lancaster), HB 208, would require all adults applying for public assistance to undergo drug tests, followed by random testing once a year. The measure would apply to all adults receiving or applying to receive food stamps, cash assistance, or Medicaid. Although Napier told the Richmond Register a positive test result would not necessarily result in the loss of benefits, the bill itself says that a positive test will make the individual "ineligible" for public assistance.

"There’s people buying food with food stamps and trading that food for drugs. Children are not getting benefit from it. Children do not need to be in a home where drugs are present," the loquacious Napier told the Register. "Maybe it could get people off drugs. Drugs are breaking the state up. If we could get a few people off drugs, it would be worth it," he said.

But Napier's assertion about trading food stamps for drugs appears to be based on little more than hearsay. "People tell me people are abusing the system," he said. "If you knew you were to be tested, you'd want to be clean."

Still, Napier's bill has some powerful friends. Among its cosponsors are House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonburg) and House Minority Leader Danny Ford (R-Mt. Vernon).

In Missouri, Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeston) is pushing HB 73, which would require a drug test for anyone applying for or receiving public benefits if there is "reasonable cause" to believe they are using drugs. Failure to pass the drug test would result in the suspension of benefits for one year, and the person would then have to apply to be reinstated in the program.

Brandom told Kansas City's KCTV 5 that she was doing it for the taxpayers. "They're very resentful that they're working hard, and have to take a drug test to work," Brandom said. "The people who aren't working can receive their tax dollars, and don't have to be held to the same high standard."

That bill passed the House Rules Committee on an 11-4 vote last week and is set for a House floor vote this week. A similar measure passed the House last year, but died in the Senate.

A welfare drug testing bill has also been introduced in Nebraska. The Chronicle covered it last week; you can read about it here.

In Oregon, there are two separate bills aimed at recipients of public assistance. State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) has introduced SB 538, which would require all people receiving welfare and food stamps to be take a drug test each six months -- at their own expense. A positive test result would result in the termination of public assistance.

And state Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) has introduced HB 2995, which would require those applying for unemployment benefits to first pass a drug test. Those who tested positive would have to enter drug treatment or give up their benefits.

Richardson's bill has not yet been assigned to a committee. Starr's bill was assigned Tuesday to the Senate Health Care, Human Services and Rural Health Committee. No hearing dates have been set.

And then there's Indiana. In the Hoosier State, state Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) has introduced SB 86, which would require people seeking unemployment benefits to declare on their applications that they will refrain from any illegal drug use. The bill also says that applicants are subject to "penalty of perjury" if they sign a declaration and then are found to be using drugs. Perjury carries a prison sentence of up to three years in Indiana.

"In employers' eyes as well as many Hoosiers' eyes, there is something wrong with the system if unemployment applicants are able to receive taxpayer money that may, in fact, be used to purchase controlled substances and lead to them being unqualified to work," Leising said in a press release. "This is an issue legislators need to review."

The bill is moving. It passed out of the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee last week.

The battle over welfare and/or unemployment drug testing is going to have to be fought again and again. In addition to the states that have bills this year, similar legislation has been proposed since 2008 in Texas, Rhode Island, Missouri, Nebraska, Georgia, Kansas, West Virginia, and Arizona. The impulse to target the poor and disenfranchised remains strong and is made even stronger by the dire fiscal position in which the states find themselves. The bright side is that, so far, that impulse has not prevailed.

Talking to Your Kids About Drugs: Four Healthy Concepts to Consider

Carole Bennett, a substance abuse counselor and activist who has lectured at a number of rehabilitation centers as well as schools and universities, offers four healthy concepts to consider when talking to children about substance use.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-bennett/talking-to-your-kids-abou_b_807171.html

War on Marijuana Grow-Ops in British Columbia Has Unexpected Casualties

Location: 
BC
Canada
In the war on marijuana grow-ops, municipalities across the Lower Mainland are slapping homeowners – including those with no link to illegal drugs – with a hefty bill for an inspection of their property, saying the fees cover the costs involved. Critics say the safety inspections are a substitute for police raids of suspected grow-ops. Police cannot enter a home without reasonable grounds for believing that they will find illegal activity. However, safety inspectors can just go in and look around. If they find a grow-op, they call police, who are usually waiting at the curb.
Publication/Source: 
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/war-on-grow-ops-in-bc-has-unexpected-casualties/article1866458/

Advocates, Scholars and Activists to Gather in Washington, DC on January 14 to Demand Exit Strategy from 40-Year-Long War on Drugs (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: January 6, 2011

CONTACT:  Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Yolande Cadore at (646) 508-1790

Civil Rights, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reformers to Hold Town Hall Forum to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Advocates, Scholars and Activists to Gather in Washington, DC on January 14 to Demand Exit Strategy from 40-Year-Long War On Drugs

Participants to Address Racial Profiling, Mass Incarceration, Prohibition-Related Violence, and Their Impact on Black Communities

WASHINGTON, DC— Is the disparate impact of the war on drugs on black communities the next big civil rights struggle? Why are black men imprisoned for drug offenses at 13 times the rate of white men despite equal rates of drug use and selling across races? How do we begin to address the connections between astronomical rates of incarceration, disintegration of black families, and the war on drugs?

These questions and many more will be addressed at a town hall gathering to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday in Washington, D.C, on Friday, January 14 at First Baptist Church (712 Randolph St. N.W., Washington, DC) from 6:30-9p.m. The town hall is organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century / Black Family Summit, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of DC and Vicinity.

The town hall meeting – “Ending the 40 Year Drug War: Promoting Policies That Rebuild/Reclaim Our Families and Communities” – will bring together a diverse group of scholars, community activists, social service providers, and religious and political leaders. They will discuss viable alternatives to the quagmire of the misdirected war on drugs, which has torn apart the fabric of many communities. 

Speakers and panelists include:

*Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, Professor, Howard University, School of Social Work
*Dr. Annelle Primm, Director of Minority and National Affairs, American Psychiatric Association
*Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance
*Judge Arthur Burnett, Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Howard University School of Law
*Dr. Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century
*Dr. Divine Pryor, Executive Director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
*Rev. Frank D. Tucker, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church
*Asha Bandele, Director, Advocacy Grants Program, Drug Policy Alliance
*Nkechi Taifa, Esq., Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Institute

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the failed war on drugs. The casualties of this war have come from low-income and communities of color.  High rates of incarceration, fueled in large part by the war on drugs, have led to a breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities that they strive to serve and protect. The war on drugs is also responsible for premature deaths from preventable diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV among injecting drug users.

The collateral damage of the drug war has resulted in overwhelming barriers to the creation of vibrant, sustainable and healthy communities. Today, civil rights advocates are honoring Dr. King’s legacy by standing up against the “new Jim Crow” – mass incarceration and the racially disproportionate war on drugs.

Location: 
712 Randolph St. N.W
Washington, DC
United States

Inquirer Editorial: Sell Drugs Or Go Jobless (Opinion)

Location: 
Philadelphia, PA
United States
The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board opines that many government officials are finally admitting the prohibitionist war on drugs is a costly failure, and that the United States has spent at least $1 trillion on the war on drugs, but the streets of Kensington prove it hasn't worked.
Publication/Source: 
The Philadephia Inquirer (PA)
URL: 
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20101214_Inquirer_Editorial__Sell_drugs_or_go_jobless.html

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Crossfire Kills Baby

Location: 
Apatzingan, MIC
Mexico
An eight-month-old infant was fatally wounded after being caught in the crossfire during a gun battle between police and drug traffickers, authorities and police said. The baby was shot during a gunfight in the town of Apatzingan in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.
Publication/Source: 
Canoe News (Canada)
URL: 
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2010/12/09/16487861.html

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