Veteran’s access to cannabis is a common topic with cannabis legalization. Many states made it a requirement before laws passed. In practice, however, how do you address the situation while cannabis is still federally illegal.
In an attempt to address the issue of cannabis accessibility, Missouri made it a pillar in their legislation. As they prepare for the official sale of cannabis this month, $2.1 million in revenue was sent to the Missouri Veterans Commission. The funds are to assist those who served and are now looking for health services from the commission. The state is one of the few to include veteran accessibility language, allocating 4% of all state cannabis revenue, after expenses, to the commission.
“Missourians voted on this amendment because it allowed for a safe and well-regulated medical marijuana program for patients, but it also was written to simultaneously benefit our very deserving veterans through services MVC will now be able to provide.”-Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director, Randall Williams
Lawsuits and VA Leaders Stance on Cannabis Access
The $2 million sent before the markets open was collected from taxes on licenses and registration fees from new business and patients.
Though Missouri is leading the way in addressing some underlying issues of cannabis access, there are still some hurdles. The veteran commission may be receiving funds but, due to the federal standing of cannabis, VA leaders are against recommending it.
The Veterans Equal Access Act sought to address this late last year. After passing through the House of Representatives though, the bill is tied up in the Senate -like most cannabis legislation. If cannabis isn’t removed from the Controlled Substance Act, the funds aren’t being used the way they were intended.
Alternatively, speaking of Missouri funds, the state is under fire from prospective cannabis businesses. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, $1.3 million was spent defending the state in the case of medical cannabis businesses with denied applications. The money being spent preparing Missouri’s market is coming into question considering it all.
“There are businesses across our state ready to get off the ground, and the government’s getting in the way and stopping them from doing it… Instead of raising money for veterans, from this whole business development in our state, we’re spending that money to pay lawyers and fight to keep businesses from opening.”-Missouri State Representative, Peter Merideth
Equal Access to Cannabis
The hundreds of lawsuits are making headlines along with numerous being filed against the DEA itself. As cannabis legalization becomes a household discussion, the way the DEA handles it is coming under heavy fire.
Unfortunately, as Congress is focused on COVID and the coming election, a clear answer to the issue is hazy. Rep. Merideth argues that the issue goes against what voters were promised when cannabis was legalized. He remained focused on veteran’s access to cannabis as well as the other economic concerns involving the process.
Missouri’s market should officially begin sales later this month.