Senator Nasheed files legislation protecting food stamp benefits for medical marijuana users

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, filed legislation to protect Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for Missourians who legally use medical marijuana. Missouri became one of more than 30 states to legalize medical marijuana after a constitutional amendment was approved by voters during the 2018 November election.

“When Missourians legalized medical marijuana and added it to the state constitution, they did not intend to prevent people from having access to the food stamps they need to provide for their families,” said Sen. Nasheed. “Unfortunately, Missourians may face the risk of being denied benefits they qualify for simply because of the medicine they’re legally prescribed. We cannot allow that to happen. This legislation makes it clear that if you legally use medical marijuana, as prescribed by a doctor, you still have access to your food stamps.”

Current state law allows for TANF-eligible applicants or recipients to be screened for illegal use of controlled substances by the Missouri Department of Social Services if the department has reasonable cause to believe this is the case. If tested positive for a controlled substance, which is not prescribe to them, the individual may be declared ineligible for benefits for three years. The legislation proposed by Sen. Nasheed would protect against ineligibility if the individual was abiding by the language of the constitutional amendment approved last year.

“I believe we should not be forcing Missourians to choose between putting food on their tables and receiving the medicine they need,” said Sen. Nasheed. “As we implement our citizen-approved medical marijuana program, I want to ensure that people are not unjustly affected by our state’s current marijuana laws. Passing this legislation is a step in the right direction to ensure that Missourians following the law are protected under the law.”

For more information on this legislation, please visit senate.mo.gov or contact Sen. Nasheed’s office at 573-751-4415.