Feds: Georgia can’t tie food stamps to drug tests

Georgia cannot implement a new law requiring drug tests for some food stamp applicants and recipients, federal officials told the state Tuesday.

The law, passed by the Legislature in March and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, would require testing in cases where state workers have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is using drugs. It is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.

But U.S. Department of Agriculture policy “prohibits states from mandating drug testing of (food stamp) applicants and recipients,” according to a letter from Robin D. Bailey, regional administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

In recent years, a number of states, including Georgia, have attempted to mandate drug testing for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, colloquially known as “welfare.” But Georgia is alone in extending the requirement to people seeking food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.