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House Passes Bill to Stop Usage of Welfare Benefits to Buy Marijuana

September 17, 2014

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, September 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4137, the “Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act.”  The bill, introduced by Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and 11 other members of Congress, ensures that taxpayer-funded welfare benefits are not used at stores selling marijuana, such as in the states of Washington and Colorado that recently legalized such sales.  Specifically, this legislation prohibits individuals from using welfare benefit cards for purchases at marijuana stores, and forbids the withdrawal of welfare cash at in-store ATMs.

In response to the bill’s passing, Chairman Reichert said, “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 card 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 the basic necessities that individuals and families need assistance with during hard times.”

More information on H.R. 4137 can be found here.