A Pennsylvania woman is accused of selling her food stamps for drugs online, WJACTV reports.
Tanya Keenan-Mack, 37, was arrested by Lycoming County police after she allegedly sold $194 dollars worth of food stamps in exchange for heroin.
The investigation began after a tip was received on February 6 that she posted an ad on “Williamsport New, Used, Buy and Sell” page on Facebook, stating that she was selling her food stamps worth $194 for $100.
It was revealed that Keenan-Mack was sent to jail for a probation violation in an unrelated forgery case. It was not mentioned whether she was in jail when the food stamps were used, but CBS Pittsburgh states that transactions were last recorded last month at a Walmart and Weis Markets.
Keenan-Mack did request the assistance of a public defender, and currently has not made any comments on this particular case.
As of right now, Pennsylvania does not participate in drug screenings for food stamps; however, according to Extract, there are 13 states that do require drug tests in order to receive government benefits.
Among the required states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. There are 19 additional states considering this stipulation, and West Virginia is currently in the process of changing their law, thus making it possible for drug testing to be mandated to “suspicious” welfare applicants starting in June, Think Progress reports.
According to Think Progress, if an applicant in West Virginia should fail a mandated drug test, they will be able to receive government benefits only if they enroll in a drug treatment program and attend job training programs. A second failed drug test, however, would ban the applicant for a year, followed by a life-ban if a third drug test was failed.
Furthermore, should a parent fail a mandated drug test, Child Protective Services will investigate the situation. West Virginia is awaiting federal approval, but should it receive approval, the new law will go into effect in June.
According to a 2015 report, seven states that currently drug test for government benefits have found drug testing to be of little assistance. Statistics show that among Utah, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arizona, very few drug users were found among government assistance applicants.
The report revealed that less people were found to use drugs among those who applied for government benefits than the general public.
“The national drug use rate is 9.4 percent. In these states, however, the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, but all except one have a rate below 1 percent.”
The said report certainly caused concern, having questioned whether or not drug screening those who apply for government benefits was truly worth the thousands of dollars spent.
Certainly some drug users will be “weeded out” of the system, or perhaps even pushed in the right direction to gain access to the necessary help they may need, but is it worth the extra money?
Some argue that drug tests are expensive and will not help with reducing the amount of drug use, but is it really that ineffective? Although there is much skepticism over the drug testing laws for government benefits, more proposals have been regularly popping up.
These proposals seek drug test mandates for government benefits, hoping to reduce costs by eliminating drug users who may potentially use their benefits to purchase illegal drugs. Perhaps if Pennsylvania had drug test mandates, Keenan-Mack wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sell her food stamps for heroin because she wouldn’t have received the food stamps in the first place.
What do you think about drug testing government assistance applicants?
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