Grow, Gift, Repair

Open Rec back up!

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) raised the issue in a tweet, linking to a story about a veterans advocacy group that is calling on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (D) to reopen adult-use shops so that veterans can continue to obtain marijuana products more readily and without fear of being penalized.

While medical cannabis dispensaries remain open in the state, the Veterans Cannabis Project said service members often resist registering as patients out of concern about losing federal benefits. Getting certified as medical cannabis patients can also take time and money that many veterans don’t have. In contrast, any adult over 21 years of age can walk into a recreational marijuana shop—or they could, before Baker ordered them closed as part of broader business shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although VA has an administrative policy that says veterans will not lose their federal benefits due to marijuana use, it is not widely known and could be changed at any time. Meanwhile, though VA has maintained that its physicians can discuss cannabis use with veterans, they’re barred from helping them obtain the substance—and that includes by issuing recommendations to certify them as medical cannabis patients under state laws.

“Under federal policy, [VA] health care providers may not recommend marijuana or assist veterans in obtaining it,” Clark said. “By closing down recreational dispensaries, our veterans who rely on these stores are left without care.”