If you’re a veteran working in the cannabis industry looking for a VA home loan, you’ll have to decide between one form of green or the other.
A recent letter from Capitol Hill to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie suggests that a substantial number of veterans legally working in the cannabis industry have been being denied VA home loans.
Veterans in the cannabis industry are being denied because VA considers the cannabis industry incapable of being "stable and reliable,” according to a story in Roll Call, which first reported about the VA policy
The letter acknowledges that “the ambiguity under which the cannabis industry operates is unique,” and that lawmakers "fully understand the VA’s resulting aversion to legal and financial risk.”
But it goes on to say: “Denying veterans the benefits they’ve earned, however, is contrary to the intent Congress separately demonstrated in its creation of VA benefit programs.”
A VA spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
“VA appreciates the lawmakers’ views and will respond to them directly,” Curt Cashour, the VA spokesman, told Military Times.
Rep. Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts, first discovered the VA policy when one veteran wrote to her office asking for help after his home loan application was rejected.
In a statement given to Military.com Clark said the VA must “catch up with the times and recognize the growing role of cannabis economy that employs over 200,000 Americans.
“Yet, the VA has not issued any policies or guidance on this topic, leaving veterans with no way to clearly and readily understand whether their choice of legal employment in this industry could result in the denial of benefits they’ve earned,” the letter said.
Clark said the VA claimed the policy also stemmed from concerns that VA officials could face federal prosecution if they approved loans to homeowners who grow marijuana.
According to the letter, the marijuana industry currently generates up to $11 billion a year and more than $1 billion in state-collected tax revenue.
It’s not uncommon for veterans to pursue legal careers in cannabis after leaving the military.
Lawmakers are giving the VA til June 22 to respond.
“We look forward to your timely response and to working with you toward a positive resolution of this issue,” the letter said.