As it turns out, denying veterans access to medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, insomnia and more is not the only way the VA can hurt veterans who rely on cannabis in one form or another. A veteran from Massachusetts – who has remained anonymous – was denied his VA guaranteed housing loan; when he asked why, he found out the VA doesn’t consider the cannabis industry “reliable and stable employment”.
“The VA needs to catch up with the times and recognize the growing role of the cannabis economy that employs over 200,000 Americans,” Clark said in a statement. “Our veterans shouldn’t be penalized or denied the benefits they have earned because they are working in a budding industry.”
The 35-year-old veteran works as an assistant manager in a cannabis dispensary to support his wife and two – soon-to-be three – children. They finally felt it was time to make the leap from renting their small apartment to searching for a home to purchase and call their own. After quite a bit of searching, they finally found the perfect home at a price they could afford – and right when they were set to close on their home, they found out the VA denied his application.
Unfortunately, this is another problem we can directly tie to the conflict between state and federal laws when it comes to cannabis. The veteran wrote to Representative Katherine Clark about what had happened – and lawmakers then wrote a letter to the VA dated May 13th, requesting a reply clarifying their denial. According to Clark’s office, the VA said that approving the application would risk prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice under anti-money laundering statutes.
“The ambiguity under which the cannabis industry operates is unique, and we fully understand the VA’s aversion to legal and financial risk,” the lawmakers’ letter reads. “Denying veterans the benefits they’ve earned, however, is contrary to the intent Congress separately demonstrated in its creation of VA benefit programs.”
Cannabis is legal in more than half of the United States for medicinal purposes, and the number of states where adult-use marijuana is legal is growing as well, with Illinois joining them just this week. Legal cannabis is a reality and there are thousands of people who work directly and indirectly with this industry.
If the VA can deny a home loan based on employment in the cannabis industry, who is to say other banks couldn’t do the same? While this currently affects veterans – preventing them from accessing one of the rights awarded to the for serving our country – it could potentially lead to something that affects thousands more.