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Madawaska Official Backs Off Plan to Drug Test GA Recipients

PORTLAND, Maine - The town manager in the Aroostook County community of Madawaska says he won't move forward with his proposal to drug test people who get state General Assistance money through the town.

The town's Board of Selectmen will take up the issue tonight. In a statement, Ryan Pelletier says he recommends not moving forward with a random drug testing policy at this time, because such a drug testing program for GA recipients would be "problematic, if not impossible, to enforce and administer." 

The plan emerged earlier this summer and has gotten the support of Gov. Paul LePage. But Maine Equal Justice Partners, and the ACLU of Maine, both urged the town not to enact it.

Jamesa Drake, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Maine, says this is good news. "We're pleased that the town manager of Madawaska has backed away from random drug testing of every GA applicant. But we're concerned about any new proposal to drug test anyone with a criminal conviction."

That's because Pelletier is recommending that the town follow the state's lead with drug testing requirements for convicted felons. Drake says that's both illegal and unfair.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.