House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

Low-income families receiving federal financial assistance would be barred from withdrawing those funds at stores that sell marijuana under a bill approved by a key House committee.

The JOBS for Success Act is a broader piece of welfare reform legislation, but included inside the bill is a provision that would expand the list of federally prohibited services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. The language is similar to that of previous standalone bills that have been proposed and one that was introduced earlier this month by Rep. David Reichert (R-WA).

The House Committee On Ways and Means approved the bill in a markup session Thursday by a vote of 22-14. It will now more to the full House before potential Senate consideration.

The cannabis provision would prohibit “cash benefits from being accessed electronically at stores that sell marijuana, amending the current restriction on casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs,” according to a summary.

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During Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said the so-called “needs not weed” provision was another example of the intentional stigmatization of the poor, rather than a practical, fiscal attempt to reform TANF.

Lawmakers who pushed for strip club and dispensary bans for TANF recipients often consider these individuals the “idle poor,” “takers not makers” and “deadbeats,” Doggett said.

“We get a little flavor of that in this bill,” he said, referencing the marijuana provision. He later said “their goal was to stigmatize the disadvantaged” when lawmakers passed the strip club prohibition in 2012.

“Imagine how much good these Republicans would have done if they would have had the foresight to extend that strip show loophole to the White House,” Doggett said. “And with all of the crazy tweets that have been coming out of the White House these days, it certainly feels to me like someone’s been smoking something strange on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The Democratic lawmaker was then scolded by Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) for an alleged personal attack on the president.

The functionality of the provision

The need for the provision is questionable. Records obtained by the National Review in 2014 showed that TANF recipients in Colorado used EBT cards to take out cash at cannabis dispensaries just 64 times, amounting to a total of “$5,475 in public benefits.” Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers moved quickly to impose a statewide ban on the withdrawal of TANF benefits at dispensaries.

And as Americans for Safe Access (ASA) noted when the House voted on a similar bill in 2014, the efficacy of the proposed rule is also dubious.

“Even if passed into law, the value of the legislation would be minimal in terms of blocking the use of public assistance funds for medical marijuana,” ASA wrote. “By preventing the ability of TANF recipients to access funds from ATMs in medical marijuana dispensaries, the practical impact would only harm those with financial hardship and mobility issues, because TANF recipients could still make financial withdrawals from other nearby ATMs.”

https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/marijuana-business-owners-rally-capitol-hill-cannabis-bills-gain-momentum/

See below for the full text of the marijuana provision of the committee-approved legislation:

SEC. 13. WELFARE FOR NEEDS NOT WEED.

(a) PROHIBITION.—Section 408(a)(12)(A) (42 U.S.C. 608(a)(12)(A)) is amended—

(1) by striking ‘‘or’’ at the end of clause (ii);

(2) by striking the period at the end of clause (iii) and inserting ‘‘; or’’; and

(3) by adding at the end the following: ‘‘(iv) any establishment that offers marihuana (as defined in section 102(16) of the Controlled Substances Act) for sale.’’.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date that is 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

California Dispensaries Want Access to State Banking

California Dispensaries Want Access to State Banking

Although medical marijuana has been legalized throughout California for nearly two decades, state banks and credit unions have remained unwilling to engage in business with businesses of the cannabis industry due to federal laws against marijuana.

State tax Board member Fiona Ma, who called a meeting last week at the State Board of Equalization offices to discuss the banking issues within the cannabis industry, believes that legal cannabis businesses should have the same access to banks that other organizations have,

“This industry has been living in the shadows for decades.”

Ma says that she would like to see cannabis businesses be able to make cash deposits and electronic transfers to the Tax Board through the creation of a state-run bank, which would be the first of its kind in the country.

At the moment, dispensaries must bring in cash to the State Board of Equalization, which is currently the only agency that accepts their business. Kimberly Cargile, CEO of “A Therapeutic Alternative” hopes to see this change,

“It’s very difficult to get a bank account for anyone in the cannabis industry. So the entire industry is a cash-based industry.”

Aside from the danger of a cash-only system of banking, Ma says that it is hurting the state by missing out on millions of dollars in sales tax,

“After studying this issue for the last six months, I really feel that the federal government is not moving or interested … so I really feel like California needs to step up.”

California will likely vote in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, possibly joining states such as Colorado and Washington, who are currently facing the same problems with banking.

New Mexico Governor to Make Medical Cannabis Dispensaries a Matter of Public Record

New Mexico Governor to Make Medical Cannabis Dispensaries a Matter of Public Record

Gov. Susana Martinez announced a directive that will make the names medical cannabis dispensaries and their employees a matter of public record in New Mexico. This overturns the confidentiality provision in the Medical Cannabis Program’s regulatory guidelines, which then-governor Bill Richardson approved in 2007. The publishing of names will not apply to the state’s 15,625 medical marijuana patients.

In the past, the New Mexico Health Department defended the provision as a necessity for the safety of medical cannabis patients and producers. In 2013, a spokesperson for the department stated that releasing producer information could also reveal production locations, which is a security issue during product transport.

Chris Sanchez, the governor’s spokesperson stated,

“The governor has taken a close look at this issue over the past several weeks, and she does not believe this information should be confidential any longer.”

Some dispensaries already openly advertise with public websites, and the state’s Department of Health provides approved patients with a list of licensed cannabis enterprises. The directive comes on the heels of a new lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and journalist Peter St. Cyr. They argue the confidentiality provision violated the state’s open records ordinances.

Hoping for increased transparency, Gov. Martinez will have New Mexico’s Health Department formally change its confidentiality provision. In the directive’s announcement, it was unclear how long it would take to amend the department’s regulations for medical cannabis. Regardless, medical marijuana dispensaries have some chance to prepare their businesses before the directive is fully enacted. Most likely, these businesses will increase security at growing facilities and during transport.

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