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GOP’s “Welfare for Needs not Weed Act” Seeks To Restrict Cannabis Access For Low-Income Persons

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Today in cannabis news: Another North Carolina state Senate panel approves a proposal to legalize medical cannabis statewide; in a recent report, members of the U.S. Congress call for more studies on psychedelics for military veterans; and a Republican-sponsored U.S. House bill seeks to prevent low-income individuals on federal financial assistance from purchasing cannabis.

It’s Friday, July 23 and TRICHOMES.com is bringing you the top cannabis news from around the web. You can also listen on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify–search TRICHOMES and subscribe!

First up: A proposal to allow medical cannabis statewide in North Carolina has been passed by another state Senate panel. This week, the Senate Finance Committee approved the proposal by voice vote. This move comes a month following the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act being approved by the Judiciary Committee.

Patients with a “debilitating medical condition” like cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis would be permitted medical use of cannabis within the bill, which is backed by Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R). Further eligible conditions could be added by authorities.

The emphasis of this most recent meeting was on financial aspects of the bill, and members accepted an amendment aimed at making the medical cannabis system “self-sustaining” by guaranteeing that tax income generated continues to fund the expenses of market regulation.

Next up: In a new report related to budget legislation, a U.S. House panel recommended that federal health authorities seek study into the therapeutic applications of psychedelics for military veterans experiencing a variety of mental health issues. A section also implores the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to promote further cannabis research.

The report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LaborH) includes new wording suggesting that the rising number of veteran suicides warrants a review of alternate therapeutic medications, particularly psychedelics.

Although Congress has yet to move on drug policy improvements such as federally legalizing cannabis, the report text indicates a rising realization that some presently illegal substances have medical value that has mostly gone unexplored. It also comes at a time when there is a nationwide push to alter psychedelic laws, and study into the substances are being promoted by universities.

Last up: Republicans in the U.S. Congress submitted a bill this week targeted at prohibiting individuals from using federal financial aid at cannabis dispensaries. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) and cosponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), is the most recent in a string of initiatives in previous sessions to prevent low-income people from using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) monies to buy cannabis.

The bill’s name, the “Preserving Welfare for Needs not Weed Act,” has outraged cannabis legalization activists, who claim that it needlessly reinforces harmful cannabis misconceptions. They also say that it’s unjust to inform medicinal cannabis patients that they cannot use their funds to pay for their medication.

“Those taxpayer funds should instead be used by families who require assistance meeting actual needs,” said a spokesperson for Rep. Rice. “The cash benefits are already restricted at casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs. This bill simply closes a loophole that will prevent people from exploiting the system as legal marijuana purchases continue to expand across the country.”

The bill would bar individuals “from using welfare benefit cards for purchases at stores that sell marijuana, as well as forbids the withdrawal of welfare cash at ATMs in such stores,” as per a memorandum on an early iteration of the bill.

In 2014, then-Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) convinced the U.S. House, which was then in a Republican majority, to approve a proposal with the same name, which never received a Senate vote.

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