Bill would require drug test in return for food stamps

A state representative from Vidalia wants to require drug tests for people who receive food stamps.

"I can't think of a worse use of tax payers' money than subsidizing drug use through food stamps or any other entitlement program," said Vidalia state representative, Greg Morris over a phone interview.

He's trying to get house bill 772 passed into law. If it passes, clients for SNAP, or the supplemental nutrition assistance program will have to go through a drug screening before they can receive benefits.

"We're spending a great deal of money to buy people groceries and those items. We have to make sure that it's not being abused," he said.

See the full bill here

H.B. 772 is similar to H.B. 861, which passed two years ago. That bill required people who are eligible for temporary cash assistance to take drug tests as well. Although Governor Deal signed it into law two years ago, it has never been implemented.

That's because a federal judge said a similar law in Florida was unconstitutional, so the Georgia law was put on hold.

See how to apply for the SNAP program and the eligibility requirements here

"People struggle with addiction. It's something that you pretty much have to overcome," said H. M. Morgan.

He and other food stamp recipients feel the law has a few holes. Some food stamp receivers said the bill doesn't take into account other circumstances, like those who need prescription drugs.

"Before you do something like that, you need to ask the people," said Rock Jones, who receives food stamps while being in between jobs.

Morris said, "Most Georgians, to get a job, are required to take a drug test."

The lawmaker told me that if a parent didn't pass the test, it wouldn't stop their child from receiving benefits. He said that another parent could take the test in place of the first. Also, he said for single parents, the department would find another guardian, one who doesn't have to be a family member, to pass the test.

"If a person tests positive, they can come back 30 days later, and if they're clean, they can get the benefit," said Morris.


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