On May 19, the Veterans Affairs’ Center for Verification and Evaluation denied a veteran hemp business owner’s application for a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business on the grounds that the business sells marijuana illegally, prompting the U.S. Hemp Roundtable to come to the business owner’s defense.
Holistic Serendipity is a Tampa-based business owned by U.S. military veteran Zachary Zindler, who, as the VA describes it, would have “opportunity to compete for VA set asides” if his business were approved by the department as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small Business (SDVOSB).
A clear symptom of the lingering confusion that continues to cloud cannabis legislation across the country, the VA’s conflation of hemp and high-THC was the focal point of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s letter to the VA written in response to the denial of Mr. Zindler’s SDVOSB application.
As Jonathan Miller of the Roundtable’s General Counsel put it, “None of the submitted information or documentation indicates that Holistic Serendipity sells marijuana … hemp is not marijuana, but rather is non-intoxicating and a legally and scientifically distinct subspecies of the cannabis plant.”
Considering the federal legality of hemp as established by the 2018 Farm Bill—which legalized hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight—the Roundtable’s argument rests heavily on the business only selling federally legal hemp products.
Further strengthening Mr. Zindler and the Roundtable’s recourse is the power of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which, as cited in the Roundtable’s letter to the VA, prohibits “federally appropriated agencies from using federal funds to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of hemp.”
In addition to supporting the business owner in this particular case, should the VA reconsider the denial, it will help in building clearer precedents for states to use when legally defining hemp.