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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    WASHINGTON - Welfare recipients can’t use their EBT cards at liquor stores but they can at marijuana dispensaries in states such as Colorado that have legalized pot, Sen. Jeff Sessions revealed Tuesday [Sept. 9th]. The Alabama Republican announced that he was drafting legislation to close the welfare-for-weed loophole after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to him that marijuana shops were not off limits to EBT cards, which replaced food stamps, or other federal benefits.

    “The federal government current spends roughly $750 billion each year on means-tested welfare programs across 80 different accounts. This money is administered by a vast, sprawling bureaucracy with little oversight and no moral vision,” said Mr. Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

    “Surely we can all agree that the guiding principle ought to be that benefits are reserved for those in real need,” he said.

    Mr. Sessions noted that Congress in 2011 had passed laws that allowed HHS to prohibit Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits from being spent at vice institutions, such as liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos. But the department did not interpret that authority to include marijuana shops.

    On other fronts, the Obama administration has given itself broad latitude to interpret and implement provision of Obamacare.

    “I was surprised to learn that HHS says it ‘has no authority to prescribe policies and practices … to prohibit the use of TANF benefit cards at marijuana stores,’” Mr. Sessions said.





    The Washington Times/September 9, 2014
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/9/welfare-marijuana-jeff-sessions-tackles-loophole/
    Photo: nowtheendbegins.com
    Newshawk Crew

    About Author

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

Comments

  1. AKA_freckles
    What exactly are they buying? Edibles? They would have to be. Reminds me of buying poppy seeds back in the day with the old paper books....



    Edit - ok I think I get it. They are using the cash part of their aid, not the food part. I always forget there is real money on some of those cards.

    Edit 2 - ok now I don't get it. When I was a cashier I checked out customers who used their ebt cash aid to buy things on that "restricted" list. Did the laws change recently for what you can purchase with the cash part?
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    It seems like a loophole in the law that the government in now in the progress of unlooping. In fact bills are being written as we speak to address the issue. The commentary below goes a bit further in explaining the particulars on the subject.--BT2H


    Although the federal government prohibits welfare recipients from using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy liquor, wine, beer, cigarettes, tobacco products or even vitamins, in the states of Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana is legal, welfare benefits can be used to pay for weed. Oddly enough, while EBT cardholders cannot use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy, for example, pet food, or paper products, and they cannot use them in strip clubs or casinos, currently they can use taxpayer funded welfare benefits to get stoned.

    Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), sought clarity regarding the apparent lack of logic when it comes to welfare and recreational marijuana. A letter penned to Congress by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell explains the conundrum. Apparently, there is no law stating that welfare recipients can use their benefits to purchase recreational weed, but no legal language is in effect that prohibits such a purchase. Therefore, recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and Washington are not barred from accepting EBT cards as payment.

    Clearly, this taxpayer-funded loophole for recreational weed is an oversight by the federal government, which can withhold welfare funds from states if they allow EBT cards to be used for lap dances, but has made no provision for legalized recreational marijuana. In her letter, Burwell stated, “HHS has no authority to prescribe policies and practices for the states to implement in order to prohibit the use of TANF benefit cards at marijuana stores.” However, she also acknowledged that this was problematic stating, “…any inappropriate expenditure of public funds is a cause for concern.” In addition, she pointed to the fact that individual states have the authority to adjust their protocols regarding marijuana dispensaries. In fact, Colorado lawmakers are currently examining legislation that would prevent the use of EBT cards to purchase marijuana from dispensaries in the state.

    Although the U.S. House of Representative previously introduced similar legislation, Senator Sessions is planning to introduce additional legislation that will close the “welfare for weed” loophole. In addition, he intends to hawk eye HHS to make sure that the government agency takes the “steps necessary to stop this dangerous misuse of taxpayer-funded benefits.” According to Sessions, the “guiding principle” for welfare benefits is that they should be “reserved for those in real need.”

    Currently welfare recipients are prohibited from using their taxpayer funded EBT cards to purchase many common household items. The restricted item list includes everything from alcohol and “luxury items” such as steak, soft drinks and ice cream to nonfood items that include household supplies, cosmetics and “grooming items.” Even oddly specific federal restrictions are in place such as the one which allows special cakes to be paid for by EBT provided that the decorations on the cake that are “non-edible” do not constitute more than 50 percent of the cost of the cake.

    Given the federal list of EBT purchase restrictions, logic dictates that recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington would also fall under the category of a welfare “luxury item.” With an increasing number of states eying the tax revenue that legalized recreational marijuana can generate, the “welfare for weed” loophole will need to be resolved sooner than later.




    By Alana Marie Burke - Libertyvoice/Sept. 10, 2014
    http://guardianlv.com/2014/09/marijuana-welfare-pays-for-weed-in-colorado-and-washington/
    Newshawk Crew
  3. idfma
    How ironic. It's a loophole mostly because MJ dispensaries don't have access
    To banking services, whereas liquor stores do. Talk about wanting it both ways (fucking dispensaries and preventing the poor from having any fun). The way dispensaries accept cash is by having an ATM type machine that the customer 'withdraws' the price of the product. At least they withdraw an amount closest to the price that is a multiple of $20, and the dispensary gives them change for the difference. If dispensaries had real banking AND credit card services (credit card companies won't provide services, either), this problem would go away.

    Yep pretty ironic.
  4. TheBigBadWolf
    Ah.
    Now I get it.
    Thats what Republicans understand under deregulation.

    In MY country there's no such electronic benefit transfer cards.
    In MY country even the poor are given cash to spend.

    Clearly our social law states what is meant to be bought from benefit money, which explicitly excludes alcohol and tobacco,- but in no way are citizens of my country forbidden to spend it in that.

    It's one of the things in the freedom loving American country a European with socialist welfare like a health-insurance carried by everybody will never be able to understand.

    Kindalike wash my fur but dont make me wet..

    I am already seeing millions of American children (and American Parlamentarian taxpayers) starve cos their parents decide to get high on pot.

    Pseudomoralist Bullshit, I say.

    As if that country wouldnt have REAL problems to solve.

    BBW
  5. Beenthere2Hippie
    I hear you, Big Bad, and fully agree. America has many problems, and adding the whole government controlled, legalization of weed on top of it further complicates all aspects of governing in this country. I can't begin to imagine the complications with prices, taxes, personal information taking and more drug problems this move will entail, since this government seems to be centered on control and not drug freedom.

    Now let's be clear on this. I myself love weed and have been smoking it for over 45 years. I am also one of the people who will benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana, but that doesn't mean that I'm happy with the government controlling marijuana distribution. America has already proven that it cares more about money in recent years than it does its people. This once amazing country that was established on the concept of the importance of the individual has long ago shuffled that ideal into the back of its political closet, and instead pushes the philosophy of money: what you have financially is what you are all about and worth as a person.

    Last night I sat down and re-watched the 1976 movie Network. Remember that one? An excellent film that holds up under time. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to do so. It's a movie that holds relevance on the the subject of today's problematic American deals even way back then--almost 40 years hence. We in this country do need a good kick in the ass to get back to get back to being a nation of greatness and one that valued the individual as we had at one time.
  6. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: Loophole in Welfare Marijuana Purchases Closed by Passing of New Law

    WASHINGTON — The House has passed a bill that could make it a little harder for people to use government welfare payments to buy marijuana in states where the drug is legal.

    Supporters call it the "no welfare for weed" bill. The bill would prevent people from using government-issued welfare debit cards to make purchases at stores that sell marijuana. It would also prohibit people from using the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in those stores. The House passed the bill Tuesday evening on a voice vote.

    Pot smokers, however, could still use their benefit cards to get cash at other locations and then use it to buy marijuana. A 2012 federal law already prevents people from using welfare debit cards at liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs.




    AP/Sept. 22, 2014
    http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/house-passes-no-welfare-weed-bill
    Newshawk Crew
  7. idfma
    First of all, B, I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore. Ah, if only there were a Mr. Beal on TV these days. His monologues in that movie are priceless, and prescient. I love that movie too. However, I saw Deliverance first, and let's be honest, we couldn't look at Ned Beatty the same ever again after that, could we? Okay, well I couldn't. I like Ned and all, but still. :)

    As to the article: isn't all that already illegal? Buying marijuana medical or otherwise is still a federal crime, so I'm confused--this seems redundant, repetitive, duplicative, and repetitive.

    Seriously, it seems like just as much, if not more a waste of taxpayer money to write legislation to make things illegal that already are. Maybe the goal is to put offenders in jail for twice as long, so their kids can be wards of the state for twice as long.

    Sad, sad commentary on our priorities.
  8. Beenthere2Hippie
    No, actually it is not illegal due to a loophole in the original bill that left out the restriction to welfare recipients who now are free to use their EBT debit cards to obtain weed. The bill, below, that was just passed will close that loophole. When it goes into affect is hard to say, since the article below does not address it.

    I also fully agree that the writing and rewriting of bills is a huge waste of time and taxpayer dollars. And that all this un-looping of loopholes of poorly-written legislation needs to stop, yet I personally don't think it will. All of this pot hysteria that has taken place over the past few months may cause the states in the U.S. now rushing helter-skelter to legalize cannabis for its huge tax profit possibilities (without taking the time to properly think the whole thing out fully so as to not fumble the marijuana ball) should pay attention and learn from both the positive and negative things, like this, that have happened to the states who have legalized before them. But, as I said before, I personally don't see them learning a thing.

    As a life-long pot smoker, I'm happy that we who do imbibe will no longer get busted for indulging in the many marvelous aspects of smoking, eating and transdermally enjoying the benefits of marijuana, but do worry a lot about the government--a government that has made a royal mess of most everything it's laid its greedy little hands on--having full control of this magical drug.
  9. TheBigBadWolf
    I don't see how this will help anything other than to let the MJ dispensaries make less of a deal and so have the tax amount of the legaliser states lowered.

    There has been misuse of benefits -if one wants to call it that- before with trading food cards for a third of what they are meant to be worth. (several reports on this here site).

    This did not only go into illegal channels but also lowered the recipients' food access .

    In my view this is a thing based on *we ( in this case the Hon. Alabama Republican Senator Sessions) won't allow these leeches to get high on OUR money*.

    Nothing else.

    And yes, Beenthere2hippie, this is not the proud nation which helped Europe overcome Nazi-totalitarism anymore (which, if I may remind the reader, was not at all what the American Rep. F.D Roosevelt Admin, was keen on until 1942).

    This myth has long been debunked, especially the right wing governments have never shied away from beginning (and losing) useless wars that did nothing else economically but maximise the profit of weapons and supply industry, furthermore taking away dying soldiers from the army of workless which of course lowered the rate of workless people quite a bit.

    That these exact people's successors want to tell people in need who get welfare payments what they are to purchase to survive ( not talking about leading a life ) in my eyes shows the relationship that is present in this important part of american society, to be named as using general public as a milking cow for their own interest (as in profit) and never again willing to give a single cent of it back to where it came from.

    easy to see if one has eyes in their heads, I think.

    BBW
  10. senorlou
    The truth is, the Republicans politicians are a bunch of cucking funts who simply whack off all day long and do nothing to help anybody at all, except maybe the Koch brothers. Their supporters are politically brain dead. I've had friends who've killed themselves in this Republican created economic catastrophe we haven't been able to pull out of in many years thanks to their obstruction. I'd like to see a lot more bankers and Wall St. criminals living in poverty and squalor, in which they have put so many others with what they've done to the economy. I'd love to see them in jail. I'd love to see them on skid row living out of encampments on the sides of freeways, eating out of trashcans, since they helped put so many Americans in situations like that. Perhaps they'd want the comfort of a joint on a cold rainy night on the sidewalk.

    I couldn't give a half a shit about poor people spending their EBT on pot. Pot has created more jobs in LA and probably Colorado than Fuckmart has in a long time. I wish the Republicraps would actually do something useful, but all they seem to want to do is blame the poor for their lot (20% of all workers who lost their jobs in 2009 are still out of work), and blame marijuana for the misery GOP policies have caused us. It's really infuriating, especially for those of us who were hit hard by the 2008 crisis caused by their policies. Now they want to legislate about marijuana. Is this really a pressing problem in America? Is this really going to affect our economy? Is it going to amount to anything to benefit the lives of Americans? Of course not. That's why the GOP are using our tax money to tackle this "problem."

    The GOP will continue to spin the attention and emotions of foolish Americans away from any possibility of making a better life for them by governing in a responsible and helpful way. Now they want to scapegoat the unemployed, and "potheads." Fuck the GOP. Hard.

    And I saw "Network" on TMC too the other night. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!
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