Michigan has become the latest U.S. state to approve the controversial practice of testing welfare recipients for substance abuse. In a one-year pilot program signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse will be required to submit to a drug test or lose their benefits eligibility for six months.
The legislation passed the Michigan House of Representatives earlier this month despite pushback from Democrats and criticism from some in the local press who say the concept unfairly stigmatizes the poor as drug addicts.
The suspicion-based program will be rolled out in three yet-to-be named counties. Under the law, welfare applicants will be screened for suspicion of drug abuse using an “empirically validated substance abuse screening tool,” which the legislation does not describe in detail.
As the AP reported Friday, recipients who test positive for controlled substances will be referred to state treatment programs and must pass a future drug test before having their benefits restored.