Fears have recently been validated that freeloaders can and will use their welfare benefits to purchase legal marijuana. As it turns out, the even more frightening aspect regarding this discovery, is that the loophole in which allows for such behavior has literally no way of being closed.
News of the loophole actually comes from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell who described the predicament in a letter to Congress. In it, she states, “the federal government currently does not have any ways to prevent people from using money dispersed through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) to buy weed, much less drugs,” according to Mediaite.
In the letter, she goes on to write, “Nothing in the the TANF statute or regulations precludes states from taking measures to prevent recipients from using their benefit cards at marijuana shops.” She eventually states, “In fact, states have the flexibility to prevent TANF assistance from being used in any type of establishment they deem inappropriate.”
As it turns out, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure welfare recipients do not abuse their benefits and if they are discovered to be, it is well within the right of the Federal government to withhold all benefits to the state as a result. As The Washington Examiner describes, the, “HHS the power to withhold funds to states that allow people to use welfare money at liquor stores, casinos, and “establishments in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.’”
The question here is, if deemed medically necessary, should marijuana be considered an abuse to the welfare system?