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house Bill H.R. 5853

Should the Use of Welfare Benefits at Pot Dispensaries be Prohibited?

Argument in favor

If individuals want to use marijuana where it’s legal that’s their choice, but they shouldn’t be able to use welfare benefits to buy weed on the federal taxpayer’s dime — that’s just common sense.

TracyEckels's Opinion
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06/30/2018
I think this is a good idea but only when it comes to recreational marijuana. I firmly believe that if someone has a legitimate prescription for the medicinal use of cannabis they should be able to use their benefits to purchase it from legal dispensaries.
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Michael's Opinion
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06/30/2018
Welfare for Pot? Hell no! Not my tax dollars!!
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Charles 's Opinion
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06/30/2018
Anyone who is against this is no doubt using their card to buy pot. Got your attention. I read carefully through the comments for and against. Against is focus on a real problem and for is close the loophole. I say taxpayer money should never be spent on pot. Get real. Stop thinking obstruction and more common sense.
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Argument opposed

Welfare benefits obviously shouldn’t be spent on recreational marijuana, but it isn’t a widespread problem warranting legislative action. This bill should at least exempt medical users.

burrkitty's Opinion
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06/30/2018
I think this is legislation looking to “solve” something that probably doesn’t widely exist. Another GOP illusion manufactured to promote the destruction of public assistance programs. If they regulate it like tobacco the “problem” is self correcting. No special regulation needed. Edit: You yesmen aren’t paying attention. There’s no need for special legislation if it’s regulated like tobacco. You want Congress to waste time on this when a simple code update can solve the problem?
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Jacob's Opinion
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06/30/2018
Could we please focus on infrastructure instead of these things?
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Laura's Opinion
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06/30/2018
The maximum amount for a TANF recipient is less than what is specified for what was quoted in the details and is different for each state. This is misleading in the details. For example, in Arkansas, each eligible participant in the household for the TANF grant receives $81 a month, that’s if they meet their Work Participantion Rate and are not sanctioned. Also, 95-98% of TANF participants do not do drugs, as proven by the states that have implemented the drug testing programs for eligibility. Therefore, I do not approve of this bill. Plus, it’s sponsored by a republican and they just want to put poor people down even further.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Worker and Family Support
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedMay 16th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 5853?

This bill — the Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act — would prohibit the use of welfare benefit cards and the withdrawal of welfare cash from ATMs at marijuana dispensaries. It’d apply to benefits provided under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and take effect two years after its enactment. Under current law, welfare benefits can’t be spent at casinos, liquor stores, or strip clubs.

Impact

Marijuana users on welfare; dispensaries; and state regulators.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5853

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: After a version of this bill passed the House in the 113th Congress, sponsoring Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) said it would ensure that welfare benefits can’t be used to buy marijuana where it’s legal:

“As a result of recent state laws legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado and my home state of Washington, we are seeing new abuses of welfare benefits. In these states, a person can walk into a newly opened pot shop and, thanks to an existing loophole, use their welfare benefit to pay for marijuana. These are federal tax dollars being spent on something that isn’t even legal at the federal level. We must close this pot shop loophole now and make sure welfare benefits are going towards basic necessities that individuals and families need assistance with during hard times.”

This legislation has the support of one cosponsor, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE).


Of Note: A 2014 report by National Review found that after Colorado legalized marijuana:

“At least 64 times, public-assistance benefits were accessed at businesses selling marijuana. A total of $5.475 in public benefits were withdrawn at ATMs in establishments that sell pot. This figure includes medicinal dispensaries, recreational stores, and at least one place that combines the two. Some of these establishments sell groceries as well as pot, so there is no way to know exactly how much welfare money was spent on marijuana.
The amounts withdrawn ranged from $20 to $400, averaging $85.55, according to the transaction records. In Colorado, the average household receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits includes one adult and two children, and the maximum monthly benefit for them is $462.”

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: UrosPoteko / iStock)

AKA

Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act

Official Title

To prohibit assistance provided under the program of block grants to States for temporary assistance for needy families from being accessed through the use of an electronic benefit transfer card at any store that offers marijuana for sale.

    I think this is a good idea but only when it comes to recreational marijuana. I firmly believe that if someone has a legitimate prescription for the medicinal use of cannabis they should be able to use their benefits to purchase it from legal dispensaries.
    Like (183)
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    I think this is legislation looking to “solve” something that probably doesn’t widely exist. Another GOP illusion manufactured to promote the destruction of public assistance programs. If they regulate it like tobacco the “problem” is self correcting. No special regulation needed. Edit: You yesmen aren’t paying attention. There’s no need for special legislation if it’s regulated like tobacco. You want Congress to waste time on this when a simple code update can solve the problem?
    Like (145)
    Follow
    Share
    Could we please focus on infrastructure instead of these things?
    Like (74)
    Follow
    Share
    The maximum amount for a TANF recipient is less than what is specified for what was quoted in the details and is different for each state. This is misleading in the details. For example, in Arkansas, each eligible participant in the household for the TANF grant receives $81 a month, that’s if they meet their Work Participantion Rate and are not sanctioned. Also, 95-98% of TANF participants do not do drugs, as proven by the states that have implemented the drug testing programs for eligibility. Therefore, I do not approve of this bill. Plus, it’s sponsored by a republican and they just want to put poor people down even further.
    Like (46)
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    Welfare for Pot? Hell no! Not my tax dollars!!
    Like (29)
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    There is proof that people on welfare rarely, if ever, misuse their benefit. 95-98% of participants don’t do drugs proven by the states which are wasting taxpayers’ money by implementing the drug testing programs for eligibility The maximum amount received is less than the quotes in the explanation and it’s different for each state. This is misleading. In some states it’s as little as $81 a month. This bill is sponsored by a republican and they are out to degrade poor people.
    Like (29)
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    Anyone who is against this is no doubt using their card to buy pot. Got your attention. I read carefully through the comments for and against. Against is focus on a real problem and for is close the loophole. I say taxpayer money should never be spent on pot. Get real. Stop thinking obstruction and more common sense.
    Like (26)
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    Welfare should be for FOOD ONLY! No alcohol, no cigarettes, no pot! And I’m a pot smoker and a PROGRESSIVE VOTER! But food should always be a priority.
    Like (20)
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    If you are taking money from the American people because they are kind enough to give you some. It should not be used on anything besides the bare necessities. I think people who smoke pot more than once a week shouldn’t even get welfare. All pot does is make you lazy. The last thing we need is a bunch of pot heads living off welfare. That will be a massive drain on government money that could be used for infrastructure or education.
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    This is the dumbest question ever! Should big screen TVs come with government assistance?
    Like (15)
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    Yes please close this loophole. I know first hand that marijuana is a gateway drug and is worse for lungs and respiratory health than cigarettes. I don’t want my tax dollars funding the drug crisis in the US.
    Like (14)
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    Yes of course why should taxpayers be on the hook for this garbage, do it on your own dime.
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    CBD is a superb treatment for pain. THC is equally excellent at treating anxiety. Unless you have suffered anxiety, the suffering is unimaginable. Anyone on poverty in the US has constant worries. Let’s stop demonizing and targeting poor people. Please?
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    Yes, if it can’t be used for tobacco products, TANF shouldn’t be used for marijuana products either. Make exception for certain products for which an individual can demonstrate (via a doctor’s prescription) a medical need. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be used to buy for recreational use.
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    This is stupid no-brainer. If they want pot they don’t need welfare
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    My tax money should never go toward getting anyone high!
    Like (9)
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    YES! Most jobs require a drug test. So, you’re going to make sure no welfare recipient can ever get a job? Govs should be educating people NOT to take drugs so they can get a job.
    Like (8)
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    It should go without saying. How ridiculous for someone to entertain the idea that the taxpayer having to not only support those that don’t work be on the string to provide recreational drugs. We have come to a new low in this country. Drug test all on welfare recipients and if positive they lose their benefits permanently even if they have children. Priorities which are underplayed need to be adjusted accordingly. This idea is absurd.
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    Please let’s make sense people.
    Like (7)
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    Welfare is supposed to be used to help people that are going through hard times get bavk on their feet. Not to buy a drug that is still ILLEGAL under FEDERAL law
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