Jackie Walorski

Republicans Attempt To Ban Welfare Spending At Dispensaries

Republicans Attempt To Ban Welfare Spending At Dispensaries

Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate, seeking to provide additional reform to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, are introducing legislation that would ban the spending of federal welfare benefits at cannabis dispensaries.

Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana has included the ban in a welfare reform bill known as the “Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services Act” or “JOBS Act.” Welfare spending for medicinal cannabis items like CBD tincture bottles could be affected.

The JOBS Act includes provisions that provide job search assistance and requirements that benefit recipients working or actively seek employment. Also included in the JOBS Act is a provision that bars the use of TANF funds at “any establishment that offers marihuana … for sale.”

Republican lawmakers in the House are also seeking to prohibit the use of federal welfare funds at marijuana cannabis dispensaries. Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina and co-sponsor, Representative Jackie Walorski of Indiana introduced a stand-alone bill (H.R. 4536) that would similarly ban the use of TANF funds at marijuana retailers. 

Justin Strekal, the political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said that lawmakers should stop targeting the most vulnerable members of our society, perpetuating the stigma against cannabis, seemingly ignoring its medical benefits, and instead support more comprehensive cannabis policy reform.

“Americans shouldn’t be discriminated against under the law for responsible cannabis consumption, period,” Strekal said. “Rich or poor, be they bankers or unemployed, it’s the principle of the matter. Senator Daines should rescind his support for this anti-American policy and throw his weight behind comprehensive efforts to respect civil rights by de-scheduling cannabis.”

Somewhat ironically, Daines is the primary Senate Republican co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, federal legislation that would allow financial institutions to provide traditional banking services to state-legal cannabis businesses.

So far, the JOBS Act has failed to gain any co-sponsors in the Senate, where the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance for consideration.

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