A recent senate bill has passed out of committee, that would no longer restrict Michiganders from obtaining food stamps because of felony drug convictions.

The new bill was proposed by State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich and is expected to be signed by Governor Whitmer.

According to an Article by The Detroit Free Press, "The change [would take] effect Oct. 1, and an MDHHS spokesman said people who've previously been denied food assistance because of their drug convictions will need to reapply."

The current food stamp disqualifications in regards to drug convictions were for individuals who had two or more felony drug convictions or for individuals who violated parole after their first offense. Here is an excerpt from the Department of Health and Human Services "Criminal Justice Disqualifications":

(1st Offense) A person who has been convicted of a felony for the use, possession, or distribution of controlled substances is disqualified if:

  • Terms of probation or parole are violated, and
  • The qualifying conviction is for conduct which occurred after August 22, 1996.

(2nd Offense) An individual convicted of a felony for the use, possession, or distribution of controlled substances two or more times in separate periods will be permanently disqualified if both convictions were for conduct which occurred after August 22, 1996.

The change comes after several advocacy groups have been actively working to get this and similar bans in other states repealed.  One main argument was that data showed that when convicted drug felons have access to food benefit programs they have a 13% less chance of returning to prison within a year.  Some of the groups were citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for the change.  You can follow the bill's progress here.