House Passes “No Welfare for Weed” Medical Marijuana Bill

House Passes Federal “No Welfare for Weed” Medical Marijuana Bill to Prevent Benefits Going to Medical Marijuana

medical marijuana billAlthough medical marijuana is not technically legal at a federal level, several states have passed medical marijuana bill, and the federal government has allowed the bills in order to test how such legislation can work best.

However, a recent investigation into some states’ medical marijuana dispensaries showed that some dispensaries accepted government-dispensed welfare cards as payment for medical marijuana. This conflicts with other restrictions on welfare cards, which prevent recipients from using their federal benefits at liquor stores, strip clubs, and casinos.

In response to the conflict, the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 16th, passed a Medical Marijuana bill that supporters call “no welfare for weed,” which would prevent welfare recipients with a medical marijuana prescription from using their federal benefits for the drug. The  Medical Marijuana bill also prevents welfare recipients from withdrawing cash at ATMs in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., is the main sponsor of the bill.

“The fact that some people are using welfare for weed is outrageous,” Reichert said in a statement. “While some may decide to spend their own money on drugs, we’re not going to give them a taxpayer subsidy to do it.”

The reach of the bill is somewhat limited, however; welfare recipients can still use their benefits cards to withdraw cash at other ATMs and then use that cash to purchase recreational or medical marijuana. However, the same problem applies to the 2012 law restricting alcohol sales or gambling with welfare.

In April, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alaska, raised the issue of welfare recipients using their benefits to purchase medical marijuana. He sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, asking whether they could prevent transactions at stores that sold marijuana; the HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell responded in July, stating that the department had no authority to prevent such transactions.

Critics of the measure, such as Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, say that the “no welfare for weed” bill does nothing to address the “tattered safety net.” Although Rep. Doggett ultimately voted in favor of the medical marijuana bill, he questioned why the bill did not further restrict welfare transactions, such as at massage parlors or Cadillac dealerships. “Just blame the poor for being poor,” he said.

The fact that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, however, could also cause problems for welfare recipients. Although the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Justice said they would essentially decriminalize marijuana while states examined the potential for recreational or medical marijuana use, federal benefits such as Medicare or Medicaid cannot apply to medical marijuana prescriptions as the drug is technically still illegal. Many states also still criminalize possession of marijuana if it is for non-medical use.

If You Face Marijuana Charges, Including Drug Charges for Medical Marijuana Use, The Strom Law Firm Can Help

Possession of marijuana charges are all too common in South Carolina. If you or a loved one have been found with medical marijuana, you could face criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony, depending on how much marijuana was in your possession, and what your intent was with the drug. The drug crimes attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Do not let drug charges for medical marijuana hurt your reputation or your personal or professional future. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800

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