Florida’s War on Drugs Targets Those Seeking State Aid

The Florida Legislature continues attempts to tighten access to assistance programs. Over three million Floridians depend on food stamps and almost 100,000 on welfare funds.

Recipients may face increased hardships as new laws threaten to take away access if convictions for drug charges are on record.

Details of Proposed Drug Felon Bill

The House Health and Human Services Committee considered legislation that would remove eligibility for assistance to individuals that were convicted of various felony drug possession crimes including:

  • Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana
  • Possession of OxyContin, Xanax, and other pills without a valid prescription
  • Possession of any amount of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine

If convicted under any one of these crimes eligibility for assistance could be renewed by completing a state-certified treatment program.

Unfortunately, popular abstinence support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous would not satisfy this requirement and many state programs have long waiting lists.

The bill passed through many committees, but never made it to a floor vote in the Senate after being tossed around in various committees. Although at the moment this bill may currently be dead, another requiring random drug testing of state employees was passed.

Drug Possession Convictions Can Lead to Unforeseen Consequences

Last year, a measure requiring welfare recipients to receive drug tests was passed, but a federal judge blocked enforcement of the bill on the grounds that it may violate constitutional rights. The legality of the bill will likely continue to play out in courts. Federal law expressly grants the right to limit assistance to drug felons, so the bill may withstand additional legal challenges.

These and other proposals in Florida's legislature highlight the many unforeseen impacts a conviction for drug possession can have. These potential laws make it even more important to aggressively fight against drug charges. If you or a loved one is facing a drug charge, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Orlando drug charges lawyer to ensure all your legal rights are protected.

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