40 years ago this very date, about two years after Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, I got high for the first time. A classmate, a recent transfer to our school district, was very cute. She blew of several jocks who had flirted with her, but when I talked to her in French class, the topic of getting high arose. I had smoked, once, but not "gotten off." I told her the first part of that, but not the second in my effort to sound debonair. She asked me if I wanted to get high. I said sure and asked her out for a date. I had a 1961 Ford Econoline van. The 8-track tape deck was hooked up to big speakers in the back, the interior of which I had spray-painted flat black. We listened to "Fragile" by Yes.
In the 1980s, the Governor of Indiana oversaw the passage of draconian laws that addressed possession of marijuana. Provisions included suspension of one’s drivers license for possession of pot, even if the possession and operation of an automobile lacked a nexus. He admitted to having smoked marijuana "once" (from what I heard, from people who lived in his dorm, that "once" was experimentation from 1974 to about 1982). Our most recent former Governor was busted for dealing LSD when he was a student at Princeton.
In two states marijuana has been legalized. There is a move to legalize it in other states. The war on drugs was lost somewhere around 1985. The victors received no welcome home parade. There were concerts across the country, however, at which the Grateful Dead played and people celebrated. Today, as has been the case for years, I smoke an occasional cigar as I enjoy a cold beer.
The Indiana House of Representatives has passed a bill that requires recipients of welfare to undergo drug tests. HB1483 first requires an applicant for TANF to fill out a written questionnaire and, if identified as a possible abuser of drugs, take a urine test.
As Doug Masson points out in Masson’s Blog, studies of such programs have indicated the tests are a waste. The program here will cost $1.1 million to administer. The tests will reflect the poor are as "clean" as the rest of us. This only is an effort to stigmatize the poor—as if entering a government agency to seek assistance is insufficiently stigmatic. The notion is to make people feel really bad about taking government "handouts."
If this will become law, then why are other recipients of government checks required to piss into a cup? Presumably the Simons, the Irsays, the Hulman-Georges and others would have no problem with such a requirement. They would fill out the questionnaire, have someone determine (based on who-knows-what standards) whether they seem likely to abuse drugs, then either undergo treatment or be denied the government check.
This General Assembly has come up with some real winners for bills. This is one of them.