Opinion: Congress should prioritize predictable, fair cannabis regulation

“Alaska veterans can’t be certain that their essential need to use cannabis will be protected…”

Many of my fellow Marine veterans, as well as those who served in other military branches, use cannabis to deal with the physical and emotional injuries they incurred while defending our country. Here in Alaska, such use is legal, as is possession and use of a small amount of cannabis by any other adult.

Unfortunately, because laws governing the drug vary by state, Alaska veterans can’t be certain that their essential need to use cannabis will be protected when they travel elsewhere. Equally concerning is that, because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, a veteran living in Alaska could be stripped of federal VA benefits if their cannabis use is revealed. The same is true of any veteran using cannabis as a medical treatment anywhere in America. That is one reason why Congress needs to step in and, even short of national legalization, establish a framework of sensible federal regulation under which all the states with varying degrees of cannabis legality can craft laws that provide fairness and predictability for cannabis users nationwide, while also protecting public health and safety.

America long ago found ways to regulate tobacco and alcohol at the federal level and still allow states and localities to prohibit use if they see fit. It is long past time to do the same with cannabis as its use becomes more generally accepted. Alaska’s delegation in Congress should make this a priority.

Jason Donig,


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