Congress seeks ban on welfare cash at pot shops after FOX31 investigation

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Retail marijuana shop

Retail marijuana shop

An exclusive Fox31 Denver investigation into welfare recipients using tax benefits at ATMs inside marijuana dispensaries– gets the attention of Congress.

Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne has confirmed that Congressman Dave Reichert will introduce what’s being called the “Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act” on Monday.

According to Representative Reichert’s office, the legislation adds pot shops to the current list of locations where states must block welfare EBT/debit cards from being used for purchases or ATM withdrawals.

Rep. Reichert (R-Washington) is Chairman of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee. Representatives Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner of Colorado will co-sponsor the legislation.

Last week, Fox31 Denver went undercover inside licensed Colorado marijuana dispensaries to prove ATMs, located inside secured areas of pot shops, were being repeatedly used by welfare recipients.

Public records collected by Fox31 Denver show at least 19 different dispensaries allowed Quest debit cards to be used inside their pot shops in January alone. We found 56 transactions, totaling nearly $4,000.

Transaction data also shows welfare cash being used at more than a hundred liquor stores and several strip clubs.

Using an ATM inside a pot shop is technically legal in Colorado because state Democrats killed a bill in January which would have banned the practice.

Now Congress wants to force the state to comply with what Representative Reichert says is “common-sense” legislation.

The bill will not comment on whether it makes sense for states to legalize the sale of pot.



  • Cindi Gilhousen

    Ok, so you know about the ones that use THAT ATM. You are a fool if you think they don’t use other ATM’s. The unfortunate part is the money should be used for what it is intended for.

  • Kae Mechiso

    Stop giving out cash with the EBT cards. Issue those on food “assistance” that nutritious and necessary food products that the USDA has. You know canned peanut butted, canned meat, powdered eggs, powered milk, bulk wheat, oats and other grains. That would work if they had a photo ID to pick up their monthly allotment at the welfare office.

    • Karen Buffum Knutson

      I totally agree. At least if you give out food rather than money… the kids might actually get to eat. We used to get what was called Supplemental Foods. Denver didn’t do WIC checks back then. We used almost all of it. It sure makes more sense than handing out money. Clients get creative in finding ways to swap off foods that should be going to the family. They should not be buying pop, candy, chips, overly sugared cereals…and other junk…with government money, either. You could have locations around town for food pickups… using a human services issued photo ID. The client could pick and choose from a variety of foods. Basics like flour, sugar, masa, salt, butter, canola oil, beans, rice as well as canned and frozen foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well, also bread would need to be available. The grocery stores would hate it! They would lose a lot of business. It would feed those that need it. Have the stores manned with those receiving benefits, supervised by a county employee, so they can learn how to work in a store.

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