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Colorado lawmaker wants to close food stamps for marijuana loophole

According to Colorado Rep. Jared Wright, it's currently allowable to buy marijuana products with benefit cards in that state. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Food stamps for a pot brownie?

A bill proposed this week by several Republicans in Colorado would add marijuana dispensaries to liquor stores, gun shops and casinos as places where recipients of public assistance payments and food stamps can’t use their electronic benefits cards to access cash.

Colorado Rep. Jared Wright, R-Grand Junction, tells KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson there’s currently nothing on the books preventing people from using their EBT cards to buy marijuana products.

“That was one area of the law that was certainly left out and I feel needs to be addressed this year in our legislative session,” says Wright.

“What we’re doing is we’re running a bill SB-37 in Colorado, it was just introduced, and what the bill does is blocks anyone from using a benefit card, such as a food stamp card, or any other entitlement dollars at a pot shop.”

While he’s not aware of any instances yet of people using benefit cards to purchase pot, Wright says it’s not a loophole to leave open.

“This is meant to be preventative,” says Wright. “Clearly, these entitlement dollars are meant to help the poorest of the poor amongst us who need the dollars just to get by […] We just want to make sure that the money is not being used for an addiction or for purchasing a drug that is frankly, still illegal under federal law.”

Wright says he sees a huge potential for waste of taxpayer dollars if this is not addressed, and he believes they’ll find bi-partisan support to add marijuana to the list of products that cannot be purchased with EBT cards in Colorado.

According to Brian Smith, a spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, there is no specific language in Washington state’s law that prevents the purchase of pot or pot edibles with food stamps.

State law prohibits the use of Basic Food to purchase items such as beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco, but does not specifically exclude marijuana or marijuana edibles.

Kristen Wyatt, with the Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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