Although dozens of states have now legalized medical cannabis and studies have found that cannabis can be quite effective at treating issues such as and post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans often struggle to access cannabis. Furthermore, military veterans who work in state-legal cannabis industries often lack the benefits and protections from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that veterans outside the industry enjoy because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.
In a move that is sure to be met with praise from veterans, cannabis reform activists and industry stakeholders, the VA has clarified that veterans who work in the cannabis industry are eligible for home loans. However, the department noted that while vets who now draw their income from state-legal cannabis businesses can apply for home loans, some prospective lenders may not be willing to issue them loans. Such lenders see the instability caused by marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I drug and they may not want to run the risk of veterans in the industry defaulting on their loans.
Even so, the VA stressed in a recent memo that since hemp is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, veterans who work with hemp and hemp products should not be discriminated against when applying for home loans via the department’s benefits program. Ideally, this should cover veterans who work in the CBD industry as most of the cannabidiol on the market is derived from hemp, a nonpsychoactive type of cannabis.
The VA stressed that veterans who earn a living in the marijuana industry cannot be barred from obtaining a certificate of eligibility. This is a document that confirms a veteran’s eligibility for a Veteran Affair’s guaranteed loan.
The memo did note that the current federal ban on marijuana may make it difficult for lenders to establish if the income derived from cannabis businesses is stable and reliable enough to pay a home loan. As a result, the memo stated, such lenders may be uncomfortable relying on marijuana-derived income when they underwrite VA-guaranteed loans.
On the other hand, veterans who are involved in the retail sale of hemp fabric and cannabis-related products that are federally compliant would not run into the same issues when seeking home loans.
This is not the first time the VA has raised the issue of home-loan eligibility for veterans working in the cannabis industry. For example, in 2020, the department issued a report stating that drawing income from state-legal cannabis did not render a veteran ineligible for VA benefits.
As these inconsistencies are addressed one by one, more people will reap the benefits of being in jurisdictions where entities such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) are allowed to operate and make a difference in the community.
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