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Food Stamps


In a quietly doled out new legislation, the USDA banned medical marijuana use from the exemptions policy for food stamps. Previously, those disabled, ill or elderly members of the household who were prescribed medicinal marijuana could exempt the cost from the food stamps asset list in certain states, but that stopped this past week when the USDA ceased medicinal marijuana exemptions because of its illegal terms under federal law.

Prior to this new legislation, some states had statutory provisions that gave doctors the ability to prescribe medical marijuana were also allowing food stamp applicants to deduct the expenses from their incomes. Whether it made things easier to qualify for food stamps or not, is still in debate, but it was essential to households that had elderly and disabled members.

In a memo sent to all regional directors of SNAP, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service stated that there was a “long-standing policy that a household may not utilize the SNAP medical deduction for the cost of any substance considered illegal under federal law.”

States that had previously allowed for this deduction must now cease this practice and make corrections to their state policy manuals and instructions. States that do not comply will face penalties for any over issuance of SNAP benefits, according to the Food and Nutrition Service’s Program Development Division headed by Lizbeth Silbermann.

There were 18 states that had provisions for medical marijuana, there were only three states that were using the deduction, including New Mexico, Oregon and Maine. In Maine, anyone who received a doctor’s order was able to receive an exemption, but now the state will end such practices in accordance with the memo and federal law.

Many believe this practice is unfair since medicinal marijuana is considered a prescription drug, just like pills, which are allowed for exemptions in every state. What do you think? Should medicinal marijuana fall under illegal substances if prescribed by a doctor and should it receive different treatment than other medication in consideration for food stamps? Let us know in the comments section.


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