The House Rules Committee of Congress is going to consider an amendment this week that seeks to stop the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from denying the home loan requests of veterans who derive all or part of their income from work in state-legal marijuana industries.
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) filed the measure that, if passed, will be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Previously, it wasn’t known to the public and lawmakers that the VA had a policy of denying any home loan application of a veteran who worked in a marijuana company in a state where the industry is legal. However, one constituent of the mover of this amendment drew the attention of the lawmaker to this issue early this year and Clark immediately started working to correct this practice.
In May, Rep. Clark spearheaded a move to get lawmakers to sign a letter addressed to the VA on this unfair policy. In their letter, they noted that a significant number of veterans work in the marijuana industry and more will join them as more states legalize the industry.
The bipartisan group of legislators urged the VA to acknowledge and clarify that veterans will not be denied their benefits just because of the industry in which they work.
At about the same time, the House Appropriations Committee wrote a report highlighting the lack of clarity on the rules of the VA on home loans for veterans who work in the state-legal cannabis industry. The panel went ahead to impose a 180-day deadline within which the department should clarify what its official position on this issue is.
Clark’s amendment has language to the effect that the VA will not use a veteran’s employment in a state-legal cannabis business as a basis to determine the suitability of that person for a housing loan.
Last month, another Congressional committee approved another amendment to the spending bill of the Department of Defense. That amendment permitted the reenlistment of members even if they had used or been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses while off-duty.
However, the VA has a history of pushing against any pro-marijuana amendments that come up for discussion, and the latest amendment filed by Rep. Clark is likely to get the same treatment. It would be enlightening to know what the different industry players like MustGrow Biologics Corp. and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) would suggest as a way to get around this brick wall of VA resistance to marijuana policy reform.
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