News & Politics

States Could Drug Test People on Food Stamps Under Rumored Trump Administration Policy

The policy is degrading and pointless, but conservative politicians love it.

Photo Credit: White House (Andrea Hanks)

Under the Trump administration, states may soon be allowed to require some people on food stamps to pass a drug test before they can receive their benefits, reviving a pointless and stigmatizing policy that has long been favored in conservative circles.

PBS NewsHour reports that the administration is working behind the scenes to roll out the policy. It wouldn't apply to everyone who gets food stamps — people with disabilities or with children would not be drug tested, according to the report. 

In fact, one official told PBS that only 5 percent of recipients would be affected by the changes to the program. 

Even among this narrow group, states are unlikely to find much drug use. When Florida tried to implement a version of drug testing for benefits, researchers actually found that people who use food stamps are less likely to use drugs than the rest of the population. 

Since such small portion of recipients would be tested, and an even smaller portion of those people are likely to be using drugs, it's unclear why this policy would be necessary or cost-effective. And food stamp recipients aren't the only people who receive government benefits. Should anyone who drives on government-funded roads or CEOs of companies enjoying tax loopholes be forced to undergo drug testing as well?

No one ever suggests these ideas, because they're obviously ridiculous. If someone is addicted to drugs, most people think they need help and support, not to have their benefits ripped away.

The policy the Trump administration is considering only makes sense if the aim is to make people feel bad about needing help to buy food.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.