Democratic San Francisco Mayor Pushing Mandatory Drug Testing, Treatment for Welfare Recipients

Isn’t it weird how leftist policies never work?

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, wants welfare recipients to participate in drug testing and treatment programs if needed.

Breed thinks the requirement would help address the city’s drug and homeless crisis:

Under the proposed legislation, those who apply for or receive benefits from the County Adult Assistance Programs (CAAP) would undergo screening for substance use disorder and participate in a substance abuse treatment program when the screening reveals that they may have a substance abuse dependency. The legislation must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Under the new proposal, as a condition of eligibility to receive CAAP, individuals with suspected substance use disorder would be required to participate in substance abuse screenings or treatment programs funded by SFHSA. These treatment programs would include a range of interventions from residential treatment, medical detox, medically-assisted treatment, outpatient options, and abstinence-based treatment, among others based on the needs of the client. Individuals who refuse or do not successfully engage in treatment would not be eligible to receive CAAP cash assistance and their application would be denied, or they would be discontinued from receiving cash assistance.

“San Francisco is a city of compassion, but also a city that demands accountability,” Breed said in a statement. “We fund a wide range of services, and we want to help people get the care they need but under current state law, local government lack tools to compel people into treatment. This initiative aims to create more accountability and help get people to accept the treatment and services they need.”

There is a process for it to become law:

To become law, Breed’s proposal will need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Their reactions Tuesday were mixed. Board President Aaron Peskin said the mayor was “grasping for a political lifeline” and predicted the policy would fail, while Supervisor Matt Dorsey was supportive, noting that “coercive interventions can work.” If the board does not approve the proposal, Breed could take it to voters through a ballot initiative.

Around 5,200 people in San Francisco get money through the County Adult Assistance Program. In 2022, the program handed out $30.3 million.

People who reside in houses can get $637 a month.

The homeless receive $105 a month plus a shelter bed.

One survey indicates that 52% of San Francisco’s homeless population suffer from substance abuse and consider it “a disabling condition.”

In 2022, 25% of those who died from overdoses were homeless.

Peskin doesn’t think Breed’s idea is serious. I wonder if Peskin has any ideas to solve the homeless and drug problem:

“These are serious times in San Francisco — and we need serious ideas, not politicians desperately grasping for a political lifeline,” Peskin said. “Mayor Breed does not have the ability, or the will, to organize our many public safety resources to close down drug supermarkets and open-air fencing of stolen goods. If she can’t find the way to prevent several hundred brazen criminals from selling deadly drugs– how does she think she will find the resources to drug test thousands of welfare recipients?

“The answer is she can’t, and she won’t, and this would simply be silly politics if the issues we face as a city were not so serious” Peskin said.

Addiction specialists are weary of the plan. They have a point. Forced rehab doesn’t work well. The addict has got to want to change:

Addiction treatment specialists warned that Breed’s proposal failed to respect human rights and autonomy — and also flies in the face of evidence that suggests such policies do more harm than good.

“The evidence says coercive ‘treatment’ (forced treatments, incarceration, etc.) of substance use — after almost a century of study — is literally worse than doing nothing at all for people who use drugs,” said Ryan Marino, an addiction medicine specialist and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, in a text to the Chronicle. “They are more likely to die if you force them into treatment than if you let them keep using.”


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