Colorado legislators are taking steps to ensure that no one will be able to pay for a pot brownie with food stamps. A new bill sponsored by Colorado Republicans would add marijuana dispensaries to the list of places where public assistance payment and food stamp recipients can’t use electronic benefits cards, along with liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs, and gun stores.
"We need this bill, if for nothing else, as a statement," Rep. Jared Wright, (R-Grand Junction) told the Associated Press.
"We shouldn't be enabling anyone to buy a substance that is banned under federal law. It's not a good use of taxpayer money," he said.
EBT cards with disability or other benefits can be used to withdraw cash, which has led to legislation regulating where they can be used. Those that contain money for food assistance can’t be used to get cash or items like tobacco or alcohol.
No one has reported EBT cards being used in Colorado’s recently opened marijuana dispensaries, but lawmakers want to make sure it doesn’t happen. Many stores sell brownies, cookies, and drinks with the not-so-secret ingredient.
"I've never heard of it. We've never seen it in any of our locations," said Ryan Cook, who manages The Clinic chain of pot stores in Denver.
The rumors may had stemmed from a satirical article on the National Report reporting that a Colorado marijuana despeensary had “taken steps” to ensure food stamp recipients could use taxpayer money to buy weed.
“Everyone should have access to marijuana. If a user is not able to afford their buds on a limited budget then having taxpayers help cover the shortage is only fair. This isn’t a right only for the wealthy,” it quoted marijuana storeowner JC Franco as saying.
But Colorado’s Denver-based Marijuana Industry Group, a business and lobbying organization, is taking the bill seriously.
"MIG is focused on addressing issues of public safety, such as access to banking, and working with state and local governments to educate the public about responsible use of marijuana and ensuring this product stays out of the hands of those who shouldn't have it," MIG Director Michael Elliott said.
A hearing for the bill, which would also prohibit EBT use at adult venues, has not yet been set.