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Alabama Lawmaker Seeks to Legalize Drug-Testing for Food Stamp Users

Norway to test free heroin for drug addicts
AFP/DOMINICK REUTER
KATHERINE RODRIGUEZ

An Alabama lawmaker introduced a bill this month that would make it legal to require some food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing.

House Bill 3, introduced by Alabama state Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant), would require those receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to undergo drug testing if there is a “reasonable suspicion” they are using drugs.

Under the bill, a food stamp recipient would be asked to take a drug test if “a reasonable person would conclude the applicant uses or is under the influence of drugs without a prescription.”

Hanes said people who previously failed a SNAP drug test or had been convicted of a drug-related offense within the past five years would fall under this category.

“If it comes back positive then this person can designate a responsible party to take over the benefit to make sure that the children get the nourishment that they need, that they’ll actually receive the benefit,” Hanes told WSFA.

While the proposed legislation states that people who fail the drug test would be ineligible to receive SNAP benefits, there is a provision in the bill which gives food stamp users who fail the test several chances to redeem themselves.

Food stamp recipients who fail the drug test for the first time would be let off with a warning, and if they fail a second time they would be banned from the food stamp program for a year.

Failure to pass the drug test for the third time would result in a permanent ban from the food stamp program.

The bill has been sent to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee for approval.

Other states have jumped on the bandwagon in allowing food stamp users to undergo drug testing.

North Carolina enacted a similar program in 2016 and found that of those welfare applicants tested, 24 percent of them tested positive for illegal drugs, and Wisconsin passed a similar measure in a lame-duck legislative session in December 2018.

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