Colorado Tries to Block Welfare Recipients From Using Funds For Marijuana

| by Lisa Fogarty

Colorado is searching for ways to stop welfare recipients from using their benefits at marijuana retailers and dispensaries, reports the National Review Online.

Beneficiaries have reportedly been abusing the system for the past six months, since the state legalized recreational marijuana use, and electronic-benefit transfer (EBT) cards have been swiped at these locations at least 259 times, for a total withdrawal of about $23,600 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.

It isn’t easy to simply say all of this money was used to buy marijuana, according to a new analysis by National Review Online, because cash benefits are fungible and some of the same establishments that sell the drug also sell groceries. But that isn’t stopping Colorado state lawmakers from trying to do something to keep this from happening.

On July 11, the Colorado State Board of Human Services passed an emergency rule that restricted the use of welfare funds at “marijuana shops, bars, liquor stores,” casinos and other gambling establishments.

"For the first time in Colorado, the rule will allow us to deactivate an EBT card if we identify misuse," said Todd Jorgensen, deputy director of the CDHS Office of Economic Security. "The department takes the appropriate use of TANF funds very seriously."

This isn’t the first time elected officials have tried to stop welfare recipients from using funds at marijuana establishments. Last session, some legislators attempted to pass a similar bill, but Democrats reportedly blocked it.

Source: The National Review Online

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