Republican congressional lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill aimed at preventing people from using federal financial assistance at marijuana dispensaries. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), is the latest in a series of attempts over recent sessions to block low-income individuals from using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds for cannabis. A spokesperson for Rice told Marijuana Moment that the congressman “believes it would be a misuse of taxpayer dollars to allow folks receiving welfare to use the funds for marijuana purchases.” “Those taxpayer funds should instead be used by families who require assistance meeting actual needs,” the spokesperson said. “The cash benefits are already restricted at casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs. This bill simply closes a loophole that will prevent people from exploiting the system as legal marijuana purchases continue to expand across the country.” According to a memo on an earlier version of the measure, it would prohibit people “from using welfare benefit cards for purchases at stores that sell marijuana, as well as forbids the withdrawal of welfare cash at ATMs in such stores.” But activists say the bill unfairly targets the most vulnerable people and perpetuates marijuana stigmas. The title of the bill itself—the “Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act”—has on its own drawn the ire of legalization advocates who argue it unnecessarily plays into negative cannabis stereotypes. They also argue that it’s inappropriate to tell medical cannabis patients they can’t use funds for their medicine.

Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 07/21/2021 09:00:00

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