Several states have passed laws to drug test those who are on public assistance, but Georgia is the first to pass a law applying this to food stamp recipients. But since that is a federal program, the USDA has told Georgia that they cannot drug test as a condition for eligibility.
In the latest expansion of government drug tests, Georgia passed a law in March requiring the testing of some food stamp applicants and recipients. But this week, a USDA official told Georgia they can’t implement the law.
“[Food and Nutrition Service] policy prohibits states from mandating drug testing of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applicants and recipients,” Robin D. Bailey, regional administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, wrote in a letter to state officials. “Requiring SNAP applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits would constitute an additional condition of eligibility, and therefore, is not allowable under law.”
Food stamps are a federal program, so Georgia can’t implement a requirement that conflicts with federal policy. Georgia was the only state to require drug testing of food stamp recipients. But many states have imposed drug testing requirements on applicants for other public benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, as well as on public employees, as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Big Pharma lobby for the laws.
This is just another right-wing witch hunt to scapegoat and demean poor people. Recipients of public assistance programs use drugs at a much lower rate than the rest of the population.