We're a hawk on the issues.

Food Stamps to Buy Weed? Fox News Report Rumor, Not Fact

This week Fox News took advantage of the right-wing’s anti-pot frenzy by running an untrue story claiming people could use food stamps to buy legal marijuana in Colorado.  “Food stamps for pot!” Fox News proclaimed in a Jan. 21 segment that also demanded, “Bill looks to ban food stamps in pot shops.”

The story was based on a failed bill, introduced by Republicans earlier this month, to limit the use of EBT (Electronic Transfer Benefit) cards in pot shops in order to reduce the possibility that persons on public assistance could use the funds to purchase marijuana.

Pot merchants actually supported the bill, hoping to eliminate untrue rumors that marijuana was being purchased with social security disability payments, temporary aid for needy families (TANF) or other cash allotments, however the EBT ban ultimately failed due to fears that limiting access may hurt low-income residents.

The use of food stamps to buy weed, though, was never even addressed by state legislators discussing the bill since food stamps (SNAP) can only be used at approved merchants for the purchase of food; they cannot be converted to cash or used for non-food purchases,  as clearly stated on the USDA’s own site (emphasis added).

“SNAP [food stamps] benefits can never be withdrawn as cash, the site states. “Many States allow clients to use a single EBT card to access SNAP as well as cash benefit programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  In most States, cash benefits from other programs can be accessed through ATMs.”

This, however, did not stop Fox News from reporting the myth that the people of Colorado were swapping food stamps for a legal high as fact.

The Fox News report included an interview with lone crusader and Republican representative Jared Wright who insisted that he had spoken to EBT users and “this population, the homeless population, the most impoverished among us…laugh, they think it’s a joke” when asked about using their benefit cards for weed.

Wright, however, failed to mention during the interview that most food stamp recipients are not homeless but working adults, seniors and homes with children who, thanks to recent cutbacks to SNAP benefits can barely stretch their food stamps to cover food all month. Wright also did not clarify the failed bill did not even mention food stamps, since they can only be used for food at approved food merchants and never turned into cash at an ATM.

Instead, he and Fox  host Brian Kilmeade used the Fox airtime to that the government must step in to prevent food stamp recipients them from blowing their entitlements on weed in Colorado’s new pot shops.

“Can people collecting food stamps in Colorado add marijuana to their shopping lists?” Fox & Friends co-host Kilmeade asked in the introduction to rumor-filled segment.”Right now the answer is yes.”

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.