MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Volunteer State is targeting drug users where it hurts, their stomachs. Tennessee is now joining a growing list of states requiring drug testing for all new welfare recipients.
"I have a right to a joint under my shade tree, if I want. But my kids have a right to eat also. If you are going to feed them, feed them. Don't worry about what I do," said Trent Akins.
Jason Showers, a welfare recipient, disagrees. "If they want to take a drug test, I take 10 of them. Take hair samples. I don't care," he said.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill Monday, May 21. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 28 other states are in various stages of considering similar requirements.
"It is not cost effective, it doesn't stop drug use, and there is no benefit to the state," said Bruce Kramer, a Tennessee ACLU board member.
Right now Florida has the most comprehensive law on the books, but it is currently being challenged in the courts.
"You are doing random testing, without a probable cause or reasonable suspicion, of drug use," explained Kramer.
"People are not going to let their kids starve because you caught me with a joint, it is going to be robbery on every corner," said Akins.
Under the law, first-time offenders could either enter a treatment program or would lose their benefits for six months. Penalties increase after that.
The law is set to go into effect on January 1, 2013.