Passing drug test before receiving welfare benefits

The governor of Maine now requires some welfare recipients to pass a drug test first

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The governor of Maine has a new requirement for some welfare recipients: passing a drug test. Right now, Massachusetts does not do this type of testing. Maine’s governor enforced a law for anyone whose been convicted of a drug related felony to first pass a drug test before qualifying for benefits.

One local resident thinks that Massachusetts should have this kind of testing as well.

“Getting food stamps, free fuel, free phones, it’s gotten out of hand. There has to be a limit,” says Barbara Arrighi of Holyoke.

A federal court struck down a similar law in Florida, finding the program cost more than it saved. One resident told 22News the cost alone would make or break his decision to support it.

Garry Ciaschini of Florence, MA says, “You’d have to know the exact cost and if you’re talking a one time drug test, or is it going to be a monthly, a yearly, then that would probably change my mind.”

Many local convenient stores and grocery stores accept EBT cards, but some local residents say that’s not the problem. They’re more concerned when people use EBT cards like debit cards, and withdrawal money from ATMs. Like Adam Bryant, who supports public assistance programs like SNAP and EBT.

Adam Bryant of West Springfield told 22News, “People that are actually looking for the jobs and trying to get them, those are the people that you know, actually need the help with the welfare.”

But he remains skeptical over where that money ends up.

“If you have the people that are spending money on drugs that are getting it from welfare it’s kind of abusing the system,” says Bryant.

If welfare recipients in Massachusetts get caught misusing their EBT card three times, they must pay DTA back and permanently lose cash assistance. Massachusetts bans welfare recipients from using EBT cash benefits to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, among other items.

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