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Legislators not held accountable for using marijuana, other drugs

We hear ongoing political rhetoric about the necessity of testing recipients of federal and state aid for illegal drugs; but what about our politicians? Those Kansas lawmakers who are so intent upon penalizing others for potential drug possession are now also facing the prospect of ongoing drug tests. The difference: For the lawmakers, there are no consequences.

The same initiative that requires Kansas state legislators to be subject to drug tests also applies to individuals who receive certain government benefits. For those people, the presence of marijuana, cocaine or any other illegal drug could lead to the denial of critical benefits - unless they complete a treatment program. So, why are welfare recipients forced to suffer, while no punishment will pertain to state lawmakers? Some of the legislators in their own ranks are asking that same question.

One freshman lawmaker, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, is outraged that legislators will avoid legal punishment if their drug test results are positive. Not only will that information remain private - a result of medical privacy laws - but no sanctions will be enacted on public servants who are found to be abusing drugs. Those lawmakers themselves will not be required to complete a treatment program that could make them lose valuable hours at work or away from their children. No, that benefit is reserved for state aid recipients only.

Clayton says that legislators should also be held responsible for their actions. Perhaps the very people who crafted the law should be punished by having their pay withheld or being forced into rehabilitation programs. Despite the woman's comments, it appears that legislators will continue to enjoy the high life while those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will suffer under the unfair burden of drug tests.

Low-income individuals are not the only perpetrators of state or federal drug crimes. State legislators should also be held accountable for their use of marijuana, crack, narcotics and other drugs. Sadly, this Kansas bill is just another example of the vast divide that exists between many politicians and their constituents, who represent a diverse array of socioeconomic conditions.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "No penalty for lawmakers who fail Kansas drug test December 20" No author given, Dec. 20, 2013

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