Can Coloradans purchase their new-fangled recreational marijuana with food stamps?
The Associated Press calls it “an urban myth.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidance appears pretty explicit in forbidding anything like the procurement of narcotics, even legal ones, with government benefits. But Fox News is still sounding the siren that taxpayer dollars could be paying for people to smoke up.
“Can people collecting food stamps in Colorado add marijuana to their shopping lists?” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked rhetorically during a Monday segment with a Republican lawmaker who wants to prohibit the practice. “Right now, the answer is yes.”
The text at the bottom of the screen later exclaimed: “FOOD STAMPS FOR POT!”
But, as Media Matters outlined, that’s already impossible.
The USDA guidance clearly states that food stamps “can only be used to purchase food at authorized retailers.” It is also emphatic that food stamps “can never be withdrawn as cash.” Those two stipulations would seem to eliminate any possibility of food stamps being used to buy marijuana.
And as the Associated Press reported, there is no evidence thus far of food stamp recipients attempting to use their benefits to get a buzz. The Republican state legislator pushing the bill to ban the use of electric benefit transfer cards, which can be used to access food stamp benefits, seemed to acknowledge that the bill is more symbolic than substantive.
“We need this bill, if for nothing else, as a statement,” State Rep. Jared Wright told the AP. “We shouldn’t be enabling anyone to buy a substance that is banned under federal law. It’s not a good use of taxpayer money.”