Welcome to the Welfare Store

Marijuana Welfare An ATM is positioned inside a marijuana store, in Boulder, Colo., Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Colorado state lawmakers this year are poised to pass a law clarifying that public benefit cards can’t be used at pot dispensary ATMs. A bill facing its first hearing next week in the state Senate would add marijuana businesses and strip clubs to the list of Colorado businesses where public benefits cards - called EBTs - can’t be used to withdraw cash. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Colorado is stuck between a hookah and a hard place on preventing welfare recipients from using their EBTs to buy legalized weed:

Despite mounting evidence that “welfare for weed” is more than an urban myth, Democratic legislators are balking at a bill that would add marijuana dispensaries and strip clubs to the list of places, along with casinos and liquor stores, where debit-style benefits cards cannot be used to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines, or ATMs.

Democrats killed a similar bill last year, but now the stakes are higher. States had two years to align their statutes with a 2012 federal law banning the use of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards at gambling and adult-entertainment venues.

As of this year, states that fail to take action risk having their federal grants under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program reduced by 5 percent.

While pot shops aren’t on the federal list, Colorado officials are concerned that failing to disable ATMs at marijuana dispensaries for EBT cards would violate the spirit of the law and provoke the ire of the Justice Department, which is keeping the legalized pot industry in states like Colorado and Washington on a short leash.

Democrats don't want to offend the tender sensibilities of their most devoted voters -- people on the dole. Republicans don't want local businesses at the tender mercies of Washington's jackbooted thugs.

But is removing ATM machines from poor neighborhoods -- where pot stores are mostly located -- the answer? Before we get to that, maybe we need to look at the real problem, which in this case is not legalized marijuana.