Requiring applicants for public assistance to pass tests showing they do not use illegal drugs stereotypes the less fortunate, critics of such action insist.
But a drug testing bill West Virginia legislators are considering does not suffer from that handicap. There is no stereotyping involved - merely a recognition that there is substantial reason for concern about drug abuse among a certain class of those seeking assistance.
Under the House of Delegates bill, convicted felons and drug offenders would be required to be tested for illegal drugs. Those failing the tests would be disqualified from receiving benefits for two years (six months if they complete substance abuse treatment).
One very important facet of the bill is that it would not cut off aid to children of those failing drug tests. Instead, it would require their benefits be channeled through drug-free relatives or others. That would prevent addicted parents from using their children's benefits to buy drugs.
House and state Senate members should approve the bill this year - again, in large measure because of the protection it provides for children.