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Research Shows Alabama’s Drug Testing Bill Would Harm Those SNAP Is Supposed to Help

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According to USDA data reported by, 71 percent of Alabama’s SNAP participants are adults with children.

Alabama Republicans proposed restrictions to the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program last week that would disqualify people who test positive for illegal drugs. The bill, introduced in the state legislature on Tuesday, imposes drug tests on recipients with recent drug convictions, despite evidence that this popular conservative reform undercuts public-benefit programs and stigmatizes their participants. 

Under the proposed law, the state’s 750,000 SNAP recipients would be subject to screenings “if there is reasonable suspicion that the person uses or is under the influence of a drug,” including a drug conviction from the past five years, (Alabama Media Group) reports.

As Pacific Standard has reported, requiring drug tests for public benefits does not reduce drug use. Instead, it makes federal assistance programs more expensive and less effective; research shows the requirements discourage people from applying and fail to help those with illegal drug dependences get jobs—the long-term goal of most public-assistance programs. 

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