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.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Worker and Family SupportCommittee on Ways and MeansIntroducedMay 16th, 2018
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 5853?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 5853
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 A total of $5.475 in public benefits were withdrawn at ATMs in establishments that sell pot.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The amounts withdrawn ranged from $20 to $400, averaging $85.55, according to the transaction records.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.”
- House Ways and Means Committee Press Release (Previous Version)
- McClatchyDC (Previous Version)
- Marijuana Moment
- National Review (Context)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: UrosPoteko / iStock)