Welfare Money Withdrawn at Colorado Pot Dispensaries

Posted: Feb 25, 2014 4:40 PM

Shocker: at least 64 ATM withdrawals of public-assistance funds in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana occurred in stores where marijuana is sold. It is unknown, however, if the money was actually spent on marijuana, or on other products sold in the store. A total of $5,475 was withdrawn in pot shops during the month of January.

The amounts withdrawn ranged from $20 to $400, averaging $85.55, according to the transaction records.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.

Both the number of transactions and the amount withdrawn represent only a small fraction of the more than 42,000 electronic-benefits-transfer (EBT) withdrawals that occurred in Colorado in January.

This isn't about the legality of marijuana: it's about how America's misguided welfare programs do not have any way to account for how money is actually spent. It is abhorrent that taxpayer assistance is allowed to be withdrawn from anywhere as cash and spent on anything. Welfare money has been withdrawn at ATMs located in casinos, strip clubs, bars, and even at Disney World. Nobody knows how that money was spent. That's insane.

Legislation in Colorado that would have banned the withdrawal of EBT funds from ATMs in marijuana dispensaries failed last month. Even if the legislation had passed, it still would not have stopped people from using one of the thousands of ATMs not located in a pot shop to withdraw money to spend on the drug.