- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee law requiring drug screening and testing of people applying for a cash assistance program has yielded few positives for illicit drugs.

Data from the Department of Human Services data shows that 65 of the 39,121 people applying for Families First in Tennessee tested positive for illegal substances or drugs since the law was implemented in July 2014, The Tennessean reported (tnne.ws/1ojQ30T).

The program provides a monthly stipend for qualifying families with children.

An additional 116 people refused to participate in an initial drug screening questionnaire, disqualifying them for benefits. The total cost of drug testing so far is $23,592.

“Obviously the numbers don’t justify the cost, and in other states that have done this program their numbers don’t justify this cost either,” Rep. Sherry Jones said.

Rep. Glen Casada said the law is a good investment that those who receive taxpayer-funded support shouldn’t be using it to fund illegal activities.

“When you add up the 116 (who refused to go through drug screening) to the 65 people (who failed a drug test), that’s 175 or 180 people no longer receiving taxpayer-funded support for illegal activities,” Casada said.

Under Tennessee’s rules, all applicants for Families First must answer a three-question written test. Applicants who answer “yes” to any of the drug-related questions are asked to take a drug test.

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Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com

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