H.B. 2459: Lifting the Ban on SNAP Benefits for Drug Felons

House Bill 2459 passed and was signed by the Governor, with an effective date of May 21, 2019. This new law’s short title (“Exercising authority to exempt individuals domiciled within the state from certain restrictions contained in federal law”) does not accurately describe the scope of what the law does: it brings West Virginia in line with 48 other states who do not ban people convicted of drug-related felonies from receiving SNAP benefits (commonly known as food stamps). Individual states have been allowed to exempt themselves from the federal ban, and as of May 21, 2019, only Mississippi and South Carolina will maintain a federal and state prohibition against drug-felons receiving food stamps. Thousands of West Virginians (1 in 5 in 2017) use food stamps to feed themselves and their families. Some substance use treatment programs also rely on an individual’s SNAP benefits to feed that individual during the course of their rehabilitation.

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