Skip to comments.Welfare cash pulled from ATMs inside Colorado pot shops
Posted on 02/21/2014 8:27:01 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
DENVER Colorado welfare recipients are using ATMs located inside marijuana retail shops to withdraw cash.
The money was given to them by taxpayers to help their families survive, but an exclusive Fox31 Denver investigation found some cash benefits most likely going toward marijuana purchases.
FOX31 Denver asked the Colorado Department of Human Services for its Quest card database of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cash transactions for the month of January, 2014.
That is the first month in which Colorado marijuana dispensaries were regulated and open for recreational sales.
The FOX31 Denver investigative team matched the addresses of EBT cash withdrawal locations with the addresses of Colorados marijuana dispensaries.
In one month, records show 19 different marijuana retail stores had at least one welfare recipient walk into their business, insert a Quest debit card into an ATM machine inside the store, then withdraw at least $20 cash.
It is unknown how many dispensaries have ATMs inside their stores because the state of Colorado does not regulate the machines or keep track of their locations.
We also found welfare clients used state-issued debit cards inside marijuana retail stores to collect cash at least 56 times for a total of $3,895. Names like Medicine Man, Starbuds, The Green Solution, MMJ Uptown and The Sanctuary stood out.
A dispensary client named Robbie stopped to speak with FOX31 Denver outside MMJ to voice his concerns.
Its not discretionary money. Its survival money. Its for food and basic necessities and not for entertainment.
We asked the overseers of cash assistance for low income families, the Colorado Department of Human Services, to review our findings.
Benefits director Lovetta Love told FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Chris Halsne, What I can say is that we are very concerned about our programs the integrity of our programs.
Love also said until the legislature makes the rules more clear, what we found is legal under state law.
Our research has shown that the majority of our recipients use their benefits to pay rent, to pay for household supplies, soap diapers, care for their children those kinds of things. But we have no ability to determine what they can use their money for.
FOX31 Denver spoke with several marijuana dispensary operators who were not too surprised by our findings, including Brett, who runs Starbuds on Brighton Boulevard.
Well if an EBT card is meant to be used at any ATM, I guess its to be used for whatever they think is necessary. We are a medical facility as well so if they were using it for medical applications, thats a gray area right there.
Another manager, who spoke on the condition we not use his name, told Halsne that Quest or EBT debit cards, used by welfare recipients, look very similar to all other debit cards.
He says he would have no way of knowing if welfare cash was being used for the purchase. He added, however, that as a taxpayer, the misuse of public money bothers him. In his mind, welfare money is supposed to be used for necessities, not recreational items.
It remains possible that some Quest card users pulled cash from an ATM inside a marijuana retail store, than pocketed the cash without buying pot. However, customers who spoke with us admit its a stretch to think the money was being used for anything else.
We visited many of the dispensaries to find that not only was marijuana the only product on sale at the location, but access to the ATMs were often in secure or guarded locations not easily accessible by the public.
Leo Branstetter, who lives across the street from one of the recreational marijuana dispensaries on our list, could not believe his ears when we told him about how tax money was being used.
No. No. No. Thats the last thing that should happen. Ever. No. Theres no justifying any of that. No way. That should never happen. If theres no oversight, its going to happen exponentially.
It is against Colorado and federal law for welfare recipients to withdraw cash from a casino ATM and spend it gambling.
However, Colorado state lawmakers have not yet made it illegal for such a transaction to occur inside marijuana dispensaries.
Democratic lawmakers in Colorado killed a bill several weeks ago that would have prevented such withdrawals in both marijuana dispensaries and strip clubs.
At least they’re not buying cigarettes - now THAT would be criminal...
No welfare cash inside any store that does not sell things humans need for survival. There you go, there’s the solution.
We need a way to herd these pot smoking welfare recipients into places where their votes cost the least amount of damage.
How about an incentive for them to move to places like Baltimore and CA??
Well worth our tax $$$ if it works.
Like mouse traps.
Is anyone surprised?
Is welfare allowed to be turned into cash? How do we ever know what they spend it on? You could take cash and buy heroin too. Why is this ok?
Does not go with this: It is against Colorado and federal law for welfare recipients to withdraw cash from a casino ATM and spend it gambling.
The first of those two statements must be the false one. If they can keep them from spitting EBT money out of a machine in a Casino, they can keep them from doing it in MJ stores as well.
Originally only landowners could vote.
Maybe only people not on welfare or unemployment or disability should vote. I know that seems mean, because I’d like to be able to vote on disability, but I don’t know where to draw the line. I am thinking that maybe it would be better to have able bodied taxpayers decide alone what to do with tax dollars. They belong to them.
That didn’t come out right. I am not on disability. But IF I WERE for some reason, I’d like to still be able to vote.
Who didn’t see this coming?
When I worked at the unemployment office in Iowa we’d give hobos and bums one way bus tickets to Florida and California.
This is not a new development.
Interesting. Did any come back to your office after going out of state?
Not a one. I’d almost bet they’re still doing it. On a different note, when I taught a “job-seeking” class for welfare moms, I saw 5th and sixth generation recipients! And they drove better cars and wore nicer clothes than I did.
Welfare cash has been available since 1935, at least.
I hired a young Black man to be a general clerk in our office years ago. Nice, polite, educated enough to do the job. Came in one day and said he was having trouble paying his electric bill and wanted me to give him an advance on his salary. Told him I would pay his light bill directly to the utility company if he would bring it in for me to see but would not give him any money. He said okay but never brought the bill in, never asked about an advance after that and a couple of weeks later suddenly didn’t show up to work. Nobody knew what happened to him.
If taxpayers are giving people money to pay their rent and utilities, IMO the check should go direct to the landlord and utility company. Would cut down on some of these issues.
Things haven’t changed. A coworker of mine worked at the same type of place that you did about 7 to 10 years ago. He said people would drive in to the parking lot driving nice cars and still max out on benefits due to gaming the system.
“At least theyre not buying cigarettes - now THAT would be criminal...”
One thing I would say about the nice cars, though, is that they get repossessed at an extraordinarily high rate. Back to the used car lot, sold again the next day. Repossessed again and so on. Some up to 10 times. The dealers expect this and it is part of their business model.