It had the makings of must-read story: a Republican lawmaker believes a faux news report that Colorado’s pot shops are accepting food stamps and introduces a bill to outlaw the practice.
Only here’s the catch:
The satire was written after Colorado marijuana dispensaries opened for business on Jan. 1. Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins began working on her bill in August.
She produced an e-mail dated Sept. 4 from one of the legislature’s attorneys, who was writing her bill.
“Attached please find a draft of your bill that expands the places where recipients may not use the food stamp benefit cards to cover marijuana stores and strip clubs,” the drafter wrote.
Benefit cards operate as debit cards for welfare recipients, allowing them to buy approved food items or obtain cash.
Marble said she hasn’t read the liberal blogs ripping her for supposedly falling for a news hoax, or the original Onion-like spoof.
Marble said she served on the task force set up after voters in 2012 approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana. The measure called for marijuana to be sold and regulated like alcohol.
Benefit cards are not allowed for use in liquor stores, Marble said, so her bill is to “align Colorado’s pot laws with alcohol, just as was intended.”
A hearing on Senate Bill 37 is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon before the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.
The faux report about Colorado pot shops was produced by The National Report, which claims “Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.” Other recent headlines include “Velveeta Riots Lead To Injuries” and “Chris Christie Implicated in Grocery Store Lane-Blocking Scandal.”
Last week, the publication wrote about “taxpayer funded marijuana for welfare recipients.” At least two conservative publications touted what they thought was a real story, as did the Douglas County GOP, the liberal blog ColoradoPols reported.
Marble’s bill — co-sponsored by some of the more conservative members of the House — was introduced the same week as the spoof report appeared.
“Fake news story apparently prompts real legislation in Colorado,” the DailyKos reported Monday.
Said Marble: “The idea for my bill came from me — and a long time ago.”
Marble said she included strip clubs in her bill after a TV investigation found that the benefit cards were used to withdraw cash at ATMs in strip clubs, casinos, bingo halls and amusement parks. Taxpayers paid more than $1 million for ATM fees, according to the 2012 report.
The current law bans withdrawing assistance funds from ATMs in casinos, in-state simulcast facilities, racetracks, commercial bingo facilities, gun stores and liquor stores. Attempts by lawmakers to add adult-entertainment clubs have failed, which Marble said dismays her constituents.
“I have gotten I can’t tell you how many e-mails and people coming up to me and saying, ‘… I am working as hard as I can to make ends meet,’ ” she said.
Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/lynn_bartels