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VAHA Endorses New Effort to Pass SAFE Banking Act Annual Defense Bill Should Include Cannabis Reforms That Help Veterans

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New Orleans, LA – As Congress returns to Washington this week, the Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives is endorsing a new effort to include cannabis banking reform in a key “must-pass” bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), according to Gary Hess, VAHA Founder and CEO.Last week the chief sponsor of SAFE Banking, Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), announced that he would lead an effort to include SAFE in the NDAA, the country’s annual legislation to direct spending and policy for America’s military. A similar effort to include the provision came together late last year but was rejected by Senate leadership in the closing hours of negotiation.Perlmutter said last week, “I will pursue any and all legislative avenues to get SAFE Banking across the finish line this year. We have a critical window of opportunity between now and the end of the year to enact common sense cannabis reforms starting with access to the banking system.”Hess said that including SAFE in the defense bill is imperative. He asserted that having the best military in the world must include critical attention to the issues veterans face when they come home.

“If the NDAA is about having the best military, then SAFE should be added. We must be a nation that is both prepared to fight and, when it’s over, prepared to heal,” Hess concluded.

He noted that Since September 11th, 2001, just over 7,000 US service members have lost their lives in combat. During that same period, over 120,000 veterans have committed suicide – with no end in sight.

Veterans come home facing a mountain of chronic health issues and many are increasingly turning to cannabis as an alternative to the “combat cocktail” of pills prescribed by the Veterans

Administration and private practices throughout America. Increasing access to medical cannabis offers hope to those who have lost it and many are finding effective treatments to catalyze post-traumatic growth.

Hess also said, “Tens of thousands of veterans like me already work in the cannabis industry while millions of others are turning to it for therapeutic options and future employment opportunities. While there are many reforms that veterans need in order to truly thrive, the SAFE Banking Act is a critical first step that would help small, veteran-owned businesses and bring safe medical cannabis to those in need.”

The SAFE Banking Act has already passed the House 6 times and enjoys bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Only procedural roadblocks have prevented it from becoming law before now.

It would provide legal access to the same banking services offered to every other legal business, while keeping bad actors, like cartels, out of the U.S. cannabis marketplace. Most importantly, SAFE opens the doors to small entrepreneurs to finance, grow businesses, and create jobs.

The NDAA will be deliberated during the current legislative session and is expected to be one of the last bills to move through Congress at the end of the year.

Hess concluded, “The call to serve should be backed by service and support when the troops come home. Offering SAFE in the NDAA is a matter of national security and preparedness and a reflection of our country’s strength.”

For immediate release contact: Tuesday, Jul 13, 2022