A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colo., Dec. 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)  

Thousands of welfare dollars withdrawn at pot shops in Colorado during first month of legalization

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Welfare beneficiaries accessed cash benefits at ATMs in Colorado stores that sell marijuana at least 64 times during the first month recreational pot was legal in the state, according to a new report.

Based on a review of transaction records obtained by National Review Online, a total of $5,475 in public cash benefits in amounts ranging from $20 to $400 were withdrawn at pot shops in January. The average withdrawal was  $85.55.

To be sure, 64 is a small fraction of what NRO says were more than 42,000 electronic benefit transfer (EBT) withdrawals in Colorado that month.

The revelation that cash assistance has been withdrawn at pot shops comes just after the state Senate recent failed to pass legislation that would have outlawed EBT use at ATMs in pot shops.

The state, per a 2012 federal law, already bans EBT users from withdrawing cash at adult entertainment establishments, liquor stores, and gambling facilities.

However, the state’s Department of Human Services’ Employment and Benefits Division does not have the authority to regulate cash assistance at marijuana facilities.

“We cannot assume that somebody who has accessed money at a retail marijuana shop has spent that money on marijuana,” human services department director Levetta Love told NRO. “There’s no correlation there. We don’t have any proof of that.”

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