The Conversation

Food Stamps for Weed? Yep, It's Happening in Colorado

This should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention to the growth of Food Stamp Nation.  According to National Review, EBT cards have been used in Colorado to pull quite a bit of taxpayer cash at stores that sell marijuana:

At least 64 times, public-assistance benefits were accessed at businesses selling marijuana. A total of $5,475 in public benefits was withdrawn at ATMs in establishments that sell pot. This figure includes medicinal dispensaries, recreational stores, and at least one place that combines the two. Some of these establishments sell groceries as well as pot, so there is no way to know exactly how much welfare money was spent on marijuana.

The amounts withdrawn ranged from $20 to $400, averaging $85.55, according to the transaction records. In Colorado, the average household receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits includes one adult and two children, and the maximum monthly benefit for them is $462.

Previous misadventures have seen money withdrawn at casinos and bars, which are now prohibited for allowing cash withdrawals on food-stamp cards in Colorado, along with gun shops.  Of course, as long as cash can be withdrawn anywhere, there's going to be trouble.  Forbidding the transactions in unseemly proximity to the scenes of outrageous taxpayer abuse is a minor inconvenience to EBT card holders.  But Colorado Democrats didn't even bother laying a thin veil of respectability over the weed shops.  

To date, neither has the U.S. Congress, although existing federal restrictions on the use of EBT cards to obtain cash largely predate the big push for legalized pot; maybe they'll get around to amending the legislation.  Or, you know, His Majesty King Barack I could issue one of those royal edicts he loves and command it.  Or is this flagrant abuse of taxpayers not the sort of thing that demands "we can't wait" pen-and-phone Constitution-shredding action?

The food stamp program has evolved far beyond supplemental nutrition for the desperately poor - a mission that could easily be controlled with modern Information Age technology, although the government shows little interest in doing so.  Even if the EBT cards were subject to draconian controls, money is fungible  Every dollar a beneficiary doesn't have to spend on rice and milk is a dollar that can be spent elsewhere, and the program has grown well beyond the point where it's feeding people who don't have any dollars.  

But "draconian controls" are for taxpayers and businesspeople, not Big Government's favored clients.  The name of the game is to get people well into the formerly independent "middle class" dependent on at least partial government assistance for the necessities of life: food and health care.  It doesn't take a whole lot of dependency to achieve meaningful political control; even someone whose groceries are only 20% taxpayer-subsidized will be very reluctant to cast a vote that leaves him paying 20% more for food.  And once you depend upon the generosity of the Ruling Class for the essentials of life, you're not likely to make any choices they find particularly troubling.   

Getting high might the last illusion of freedom we retain.  In fact, it's the perfect distillation of the illusion that freedom can be obtained without responsibility.  What could more perfectly capture the spirit of our age than using food stamp money to buy weed?



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