If you are a current recipient of food stamps or SNAP benefits in Georgia and have heard about the drug test law, you have every reason to be concerned. Even if you are planning to apply for food assistance in Georgia, the mention of drug testing means you have to make sure you are clean before you can apply.
In March 2014, the state of Georgia passed a law requiring the testing of some food stamp applicants and recipients. The law was intended to go into effect on July 1, 2014. The intention of the law is to stop anyone who fails a drug test from getting food stamps because those who sponsored the bill believe that some people on public assistance such as food stamps are free loaders who are just living off the government while spending their money on drugs.
The video above explains what the law is about and what ordinary citizens of the state think about the law. The video mentions that state officials who manage the food stamps program can request a drug test from a recipient or applicant for food assistance if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is using drugs. As someone commented on the video, some people are of the opinion that if people who work are being drug tested as a requirement for a job, then why not do the same for people who are seeking public assistance from tax payers money?
Georgia food stamps drug test law legal?
But the big question that was immediately asked by many after the law passed the legislature is whether the Georgia food stamps drug test law is legal. That is because the food stamps program is a federal government program so a state passing a law that contradicts Department of Agriculture law becomes a problem. The USDA requirements prohibits drug testing as part of the qualification process for SNAP benefits. Due to this fact, The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a letter to state officials telling them it will not allow the state of Georgia to force participants in food stamp programs to pass drug screenings first. With that letter, the law was effectively put on hold.
Food stamp drug tests would violate federal law
According to the this USA today article, food the Obama Administration determined in January 2017 that drug testing food stamp recipients violates federal law and cannot be implemented without an act of Congress. They also went on to say that the Trump Administration cannot authorize drug testing of food stamps recipients because “The law clearly does not allow it,” and if new Trump administration wants to do it, they would have to get Congress to pass a law and the President will have to sign that law for drug testing of SNAP benefit recipients to go into effect. Our opinion is that until such a law is passed, no state will be able to do it and if they did, it will successfully be challenged in court.
Results from Arizona
As you can see from the image below, Arizona tried drug testing welfare recipients. They tested 87,000 people and only one person failed the test. Is it really worth spending all this money just to catch a few people? Clearly, the idea that welfare recipients are on drugs and therefore should be drug tested is just a myth. Most food stamps households has at least one adult that is working.
So, the answer to the question “Do you have to pass a drug test in order to keep your food stamps or qualify for food stamps in Georgia” is NO. You don’t. If anyone is telling you otherwise, they are not well informed. If you still don’t believe it, read the letter from the USDA yourself by clicking here. If you have any comments about this issue or post, please post them in the comments section below. We would like to hear from you about your experience with this issue. Did someone ask you to take a drug test to qualify for public benefits or assistance?