Thousands of Dollars of Welfare Money Has Been Withdrawn in Colorado's Pot Shops

| by Lina Batarags

Within the first month of recreational marijuana being legalized in Colorado, welfare beneficiaries accessed cash benefits from ATMs in marijuana stores no less than 64 times.

This means that a total of $5,475 in public cash benefits has been withdrawn from ATMs in stores that sell marijuana.

National Review Online obtained records that indicate that in January, ATM withdrawals in pot shops ranged from $20 to $400. The average withdrawal was $85.55.

Included in this figure are medicinal dispensaries, recreational stores, and at least one place that combines the two. Because some of these stores sell not only pot but also groceries, it is hard to determine just how much of this money was actually spent on marijuana.

These 64 withdrawals represent a minor fraction of the more than 42,000 electronic benefit transfer (EBT) withdrawals in Colorado in January.

As National Review Online points out, they also “demonstrate the Centennial State’s lack of oversight of improper use of welfare benefits.”

In line with a 2012 federal law, the withdrawal of EBT cash is illegal in Colorado’s adult entertainment establishments, gun shops, liquor stores and gambling facilities.

However, information concerning withdrawal and possible use of cash assistance in pot shops comes closely after the Senate’s failed attempt to similarly outlaw EBT use in pot shops.

Republican Representative Dan Nordberg has expressed frustration about the bill’s failure.

“Truth be told,” said Nordberg, “you would think this is common sense, yet I’ve still not received a straight answer for why [Colorado’s Democrats] killed our bill and think it’s okay for welfare beneficiaries to withdraw public benefits in pot shops and strip clubs.”

The state’s Department of Human Services’ Employment and Benefits Division remains without the same authority to regulate cash assistance at marijuana facilities, as it does at other facilities.

 “We cannot assume that somebody who has accessed money at a retail marijuana shop has spent that money on marijuana,” said human services department director Levetta Love.

“There’s no correlation there,” Love continued. “We don’t have any proof of that.”


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