WASHINGTON D.C. – According to a report on RollCall.com last week, an email was sent to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie by Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) and more than 20 other representatives, asking for explanation of the VA’s policy of denying home loans for veterans that are currently employed in the legal cannabis industry, in legal states.
The letter was prompted by one of Clark’s constituents, who contacted her to explain that his VA home loan—a longtime benefit of honorable military service—had been denied. The VA cited the legal cannabis industry as being “[insufficiently] stable and reliable” as an employer.
Several military blogs and news outlets covered the developments, but the Boston Globe obtained an anonymous interview with the veteran in question for its story.
“I was actually accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine, and then to have it pulled right out from under you at the eleventh hour… I was blown away,” said the veteran, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity. “It was very frustrating and demoralizing.”
The veteran went on to compare his employment to working for any start-up business in any other legal industry; he believed the cannabis business where he is employed probably generated a considerable amount of revenue, unlike many other fledgling businesses that struggle to get started.
The letter sent to Secretary Wilkie questioned this case, and the claims of several other veterans who said they were also denied VA loans and other GI Bill benefits due to employment at cannabis companies.
A spokesperson for the VA told the Boston Globe that they would respond to legislators directly in regards to the matter.
In the letter, representatives reportedly raised the point that as cannabis legalization expands in the U.S., it’s likely that more veterans will seek jobs in the legal cannabis industry. They asked the VA to consider updating its policies to guarantee equitable access to benefits for all eligible veterans.
They also noted that 211,000 people are currently employed in the U.S. legal cannabis industry, which generated $11 billion in sales in 2018, though they did not list a source for that information.
“We owe our veterans a great deal of gratitude, but it cannot just be something we say—we have to do it and act on it,” Clark told the Boston Globe; the article was posted to Clark’s Congressional website.
“There had been an injustice here,” she added.
She also promised a response from legislators to ensure that veterans would receive entitled benefits. The veteran whose case had been highlighted in the situation told the Globe that he and his wife are currently looking for another house, and they don’t plan on using a VA loan.