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Trade War 

Bartering cannabis for benefits is — you guessed it — illegal

click to enlarge Pro tip: Don't try to trade weed for government-issued benefits
  • Pro tip: Don't try to trade weed for government-issued benefits

You're being watched. In an age of renewed Orwellian alarm, such a warning may sound a bit tone-deaf, but that's the message emanating from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Not that you care; 42 percent of Americans approve of the National Security Agency listening in, according to the Pew Research Center. What's another eye in the sky? But for those of you "on food stamps" and/or "on dope," the DSHS press release in question might be worth a look-see.

In a "note to would-be food benefits traffickers," the DSHS wants you to know: your days are numbered. Just ask Martin Alan Dorr, 28, of Tacoma; he's now making friends in Pierce County Jail after Puyallup police arrested him on Groundhog Day in a sting operation funded by a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014.

His crime? Dorr published an ad on Craigslist (flagged by DSHS investigators) soliciting EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards, also known as Quest Cards, in exchange for his "great organic sativa hybrid" cannabis. D'oh! The sale of marijuana without a license is illegal, and the DSHS runs a tight ship: the unauthorized use of your benefits (for a tattoo, liquor, drugs, guns, adult entertainment, etc.) could mean disqualification from the program for life. Dorr, however, is facing felony charges of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and food benefit trafficking, plus six more weeks of winter (likely from behind bars).

Scofflaws like Dorr rip off Washington taxpayers to the tune of $11 million annually, although this is the first known case involving the exchange of benefit cards and weed on social media, says DSHS spokeswoman Mindy Chambers.

If only state law would be respected.

Touché, you say? Republican Congressman (and medical marijuana patient) Dana Rohrabacher of California is of the same mind. Last week he resubmitted a bill, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, hours before fervid prohibitionist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General.

Sessions has promised to bring a clenched fist to the legalization debate. "We need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it's in fact a very real danger," he told the Senate last April. Rohrabacher's HR 975, on the other hand, would shield states that have already implemented medical or recreational programs from Sessions' plans for a Nixonian-style Justice Department.

It won't, however, keep Big Brother from tracking you down when you try to trade your dank wares online. ♦

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