On Friday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that will create a one-year program requiring the state’s Department of Human Services to test potential welfare recipients for drug use.
According MLive.com, the program would apply to those who are suspected of using drugs. If they failed a drug test, they would be referred to treatment, and if they then fail a follow-up test or refuse to take one at all, they would have their benefits taken away.
“We want to remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently,” Snyder said in a statement. “This pilot program is intended to help ensure recipients get the wrap-around services they need to overcome drug addiction and lead successful lives. We’ll then have opportunity to assess effectiveness and outcomes.”
The pilot program, which critics believe would “further stigmatize individuals who are already struggling and have not been shown to use drugs at any greater rate than other residents,” is not the first drug test law in the state’s history to be implemented. A similar program was introduced in 1999 but was quickly shut down because it was deemed unconstitutional.
Some opponenets of drug-screening programs for welfare recipients argue that it is discriminatory, and many in other states throughout the country have been struck down.
“We give out tax credits to schools, we give out tax credits to students, we give out tax credits to police and fire (departments),” Democratic Sen. Vincent Gregory said earlier this year on the Senate Floor, according to the Washington Times. “And yet the only (group) that we are now saying is subject to drug screening are the poor — the poorest of the poor.”
Despite strong criticism that drug testing programs discriminate, the new Michigan program reportedly requires that an “empirically validated substance abuse screening tool” be used to screen recipients before any actual drug testing occurs.