Last month, a document signed by several members of Congress exposed the VA’s unpublished policy of denying home loans to veterans employed in the cannabis industry. The policy seems doubly outrageous considering the proven benefits of medicinal cannabis to treat numerous conditions associated with military service.
As the “Veterans Cannabis Project” states, medicinal marijuana is “recognized by experts such as the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association as a safer alternative to many federally legal treatments,” and it is “an incredibly effective tool for veterans challenged with managing the symptoms of their wounds.”
But if a veteran is employed in the legal cannabis industry, he or she can forget about a VA home loan. Now Congress is about to consider an amendment to the VA’s policy to ensure no more veterans have their applications denied for that reason.
The proposed legislation was brought forward by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA). If it is passed in Congress, it will become part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The VA’s discriminatory policy was brought to Rep. Clark’s attention by one of its victims, who is a member of her constituency.
Rep. Clark promptly addressed a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, stating, “Denying veterans the benefits they’ve earned . . . is contrary to the intent Congress separately demonstrated in its creation of VA benefit programs . . . A substantial number of veterans earn their livelihoods in this industry and, in coming years, that number is likely to rise further. The VA must acknowledge this reality and ensure veterans who work in this sector are able to understand clearly and can equitably access the benefits they've earned."
In a statement to Military.com, Rep. Clark added that the VA has to "catch up with the times and recognize the growing role of the cannabis economy that employs over 200,000 Americans. Our veterans should not be penalized or denied the benefits they have earned because they are working in a budding industry."
As more states legalize marijuana, new jobs are being created that provide much-needed employment opportunities for veterans. Rep. Clark’s letter was signed by 20 other Democrat and Republican legislators. Soon thereafter, the House Appropriations Committee authored a report calling the VA to clarify its home loan policies in the case of veterans employed in the legal marijuana sector. The Committee gave the VA 180 days to respond.
Considering the VA’s past history of trying to push back any pro-cannabis amendments, it is to be expected that Rep. Clark’s initiative might still encounter a few hurdles along the way.
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