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Welfare for Weed: Colorado Allows EBT Withdrawals at Pot Shops

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// Jan 21 2014 // 8:38am
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Amid the growing debate about the legalization of marijuana, Colorado GOP lawmakers are trying to make it a little tougher for people receiving welfare or other federal government benefits to spend that money on marijuana.

Colorado pot shops currently have ATMs where welfare recipients can withdraw cash using their EBT cards. A State Senate committee rejected Republicans' proposal to close this loophole.

Here's more on last week's vote from AP:

Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said Colorado’s new legal pot industry needs to make sure not to invite federal scrutiny through improper cash withdrawals at recreational or medical marijuana stores.

“Already we are operating an industry which is not allowed under federal law,” said Marble, one of the chief lawmakers involved with Colorado’s marijuana regulation bills.

If federal authorities notice public benefit card use at marijuana shops, “I have a feeling we’re going to see trouble we’re not ready to deal with,” she said.

Democrats on the committee said some neighborhoods have few ATMs, and the Legislature should address those banking deserts before piling on places where public assistance cards can’t be used.

“I’m not comfortable limiting that access until I’m certain we’ve done that due diligence to make sure people can access their benefits when they need to,” Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, said.

Lawmakers wanted to add legal pot shops and strip clubs to the list of places where EBT cards cannot be used to withdraw cash. The list currently includes casinos, gun stores and liquor stores.

Colorado State Rep. Jared Wright (R) called the vote a "political move" by Democrats and warned that it will backfire.

He believes it's "unfair" to be encouraging people who may have past or current struggles with addiction to spend their money on marijuana.

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