Now that marijuana is legal for adults in Colorado, it was inevitable that the welfare system would somehow be involved. A new report has confirmed that welfare beneficiaries accessed cash benefits at ATMs in Colorado marijuana dispensaries at least 64 times last month. The average withdrawal was $85.55, with the pot shop transactions ranging from $20 to $400 in total. Although the 64 withdrawals are less than one percent of the 42,000 electronic benefit transfer (EBT) withdrawals made at ATMs throughout Colorado, it’s inevitable this number will increase in the coming months.
The findings by National Review Online come on the heels of the state Senate denying legislation that would ban EBT use at ATMs in pot shops. “We cannot assume that somebody who has accessed money at a retail marijuana shop has spent that money on marijuana,” human services department director Levetta Love told NRO. “There’s no correlation there. We don’t have any proof of that.” However, the state already has a law banning EBT use at ATMs in liquor stores, strip clubs, casinos and other questionable establishments.
Last month, welfare recipients across the country were caught spending money on lavish vacations to destinations including Hawaii and Florida. Department of Health and Human Services records show that Maine welfare cash has turned up in all 50 U.S. states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. However, they aren’t the only state that has this problem. More than $69 million in California welfare cash was spent or withdrawn outside of the state between 2007 and 2010, with Las Vegas receiving approximately $11.8 million of this amount. Welfare cash withdrawals have also been traced to various strip clubs and casinos in Kansas and Washington.