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“No Welfare for Weed” Bill

By Rebecca 11/03/2014

The House recently passed abillthat would make it a little bit harder for individuals on welfare to use their cash assistance to purchase marijuana in states where it is legal to sell marijuana in stores. Many supporters of this bill refer to it as the “No Welfare for Weed Bill,” but it's actually thePreserving Welfare For Needs Not Weed Act. Individuals who try to abuse the system have been using their government issued welfare debit card to withdraw money from ATMs as well as make purchases at stores that sell marijuana.

 

This bill, however, will restrict people from using their government issued card at these stores, and they will no longer be allowed to withdraw money from ATMs located within these shops either. This bills, however, falls short and does not cover its entire basis. While it does make things a bit more challenging for people to abuse the system, it still doesn't make it impossible. Individuals with government issued welfare debit cards can still use an ATM anywhere else and take money out for the purchase of marijuana using cash.

 

This type of government assistance is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which 3.6 million families receive benefits under, 45,000 in Colorado and 99,000 in Washington State. When families receive these benefits, the funds are loaded onto the electronic benefits transfer cards, which work just like debit cards.

 

Back in February of 2014, it wasadmittedthat there was no hard evidence that people were indeed using their electronic benefits transfer cards for marijuana related purchases because stores that sell marijuana in Colorado and Washington also sell groceries and other items. In late July, the Department of Health and Human Services made a point to inform congress that they couldn't control transactions in stores that sold marijuana. In a letter sent to Sen. Jeff Sessions from Sylvia Matthews, HHS secretaryexplained, “Any inappropriate expenditure of public funds is cause for concern and should be addressed immediately.”

 

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