Reporting from Sacramento — California welfare recipients will no longer be able to use their state-issued debit cards at medical marijuana shops, psychics, massage parlors and many other businesses whose services have been deemed "inconsistent" with the goals of the program.
The Schwarzenegger administration sent a letter to county welfare directors Monday announcing that ATMs and point-of-sale card readers in such business will be removed from the network that accepts California's Electronic Benefits Transfer cards.
The letter said the cards, which allow access to cash meant to help families pay rent and clothe their children, also will no longer work at bail bond establishments, bingo halls, gun shops, bars, race tracks, smoking shops, tattoo parlors and on cruise ships.
Reached late Monday afternoon, Department of Social Services spokesman Michael Weston could not say how much welfare money had been spent at or withdrawn from businesses subject to the new ban. He also would not elaborate on how those businesses were chosen. The letter said simply that the businesses are "inconsistent with the intent" of the program.