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Rep. Gabbard: Protect VA Benefits for Veterans Employed in State-Legalized Cannabis Industry

June 6, 2019, 9:35 AM HST (Updated June 6, 2019, 9:35 AM)
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) joined colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on June 5, 2019, to demand correction of the VA’s denial of loan guarantee benefits to veterans who derive income from state-legalized cannabis activities.

“A majority of states, including Hawai‘i, have legalized cannabis in some form,” said Rep. Gabbard. “State-legal cannabis businesses generate billions of dollars a year in sales, generate over $1 billion in tax revenue, and support the livelihood of more than 200,000 Americans—including many veterans. These veterans should not be penalized or risk losing their VA benefits for working in the state-legalized cannabis industry. This must be corrected immediately by the VA, and Congress must pass my bipartisan Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.”

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Rep. Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies as part of her ongoing commitment to common sense criminal justice reform. She introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Don Young (AK-at large)—(the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 1588) and the Marijuana Data Collection Act (HR 1587). H.R. 1588 would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list. HR 1587 would direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of state legalized medicinal and adult-use marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice, and employment.

She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state law to resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. She is a cosponsor of HR 1456, the Marijuana Justice Act to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

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