January 26, 2015
DENVER – El Paso County officials recently announced that, beginning Jan. 26, some participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will be required to undergo drug screening and testing to remain in the program. Participants will automatically be required to undergo screening after 24 months in the TANF program, or if “reasonable suspicion” of substance use is detected based on a subjective set of criteria devised by the county.
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado Statement
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado opposes drug testing as a requirement for public benefits. All available evidence shows that welfare applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public. Yet the new El Paso County policy, which will cost taxpayers to implement, singles out limited-income people and requires them to submit to humiliating and intrusive searches of their bodily fluids because they need temporary help making ends meet.
“Further, the denial of public benefits based on marijuana use defies the will of Colorado voters who made both medical and recreational marijuana use legal as a matter of state law.”