Medical marijuana would be added to the list of items prohibited from purchase when using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards under proposed legislation heard today in a Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee hearing.
The EBT cards, which work much like bank debit cards, are used by people who receive federal food aid and state cash benefits to pay for items related to childcare.
Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) said the cash given to recipients is strictly intended for the needs of a child.
“I’m not against medical marijuana. It’s just simply that it’s an inappropriate use of money that supposed to benefit children. Somebody taking medical marijuana doesn’t benefit the child,” he said.
In 2011, the legislature banned EBT card purchases for tattoos, body piercings, alcohol and tobacco. The bill also banned bars, casinos and strip clubs from accepting EBT cards after an investigation revealed that a significant number of the state-issued cards were being used at casinos.
Under the new legislation, businesses licensed to sell liquor would be required to reconfigure their ATM machines to no longer accept EBT cards.
Lonnie Johns-Brown with the Welfare Advocates Group told the committee that disabling the ATM machines at stores selling liquor may limit access for recipients following the rules.
“Our biggest concern is to make sure people can actually access cash,” she said.
Members of the committee agreed EBT card regulations remain difficult to enforce.
“It is simply sending a message that this is money for children, not for adults,” Carrell said.