The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is selling pairs of aesthetically questionable hemp toe shoes to military veterans.
In one of the latest, albeit more trivial, examples of the federal government embracing the crop since its legalization under the 2018 Farm Bill, VA’s Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) is offering the hemp shoe at a price they claim is “so good” that their brand partners won’t let them disclose it unless you’re a member.
VCS, established in 1946, provides “articles of merchandise and services at reasonable prices to Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare system, caregivers, and visitors,” according to the agency’s site. “Since its conception, VCS’ mission continues, incorporating a strategic Veteran-centric approach emphasizing the importance of service to Veterans and supporting VA’s overall mission.”
Of course, VA doesn’t produce the shoes; the company Vibram does. Both the men’s- and women’s-style shoe go for about $100 normally, according to the firm’s website.
While some might have to weigh those benefits against the trademark FiveFinger aesthetic, it is the case that hemp often represents a more environmentally sustainable alternative to plastic-based materials.
That VA is offering the hemp product to its members is another sign of the federal government normalizing the crop, despite maintaining prohibition against its cannabis cousin marijuana.
That said, while VA is working to put hemp on veterans’ feet, the Department of Defense has made clear that active service members cannot ingest hemp products such as CBD oils and tinctures regardless of their legal status. A little-noticed memo the department issued this year instructed military branches to issue guidance explaining the hemp ban by March.
The memo does make an exception for the use of “durable goods containing hemp” such as rope and clothing, however, so it appears service members would be cleared to individually wrap each of their toes in the Vibram cannabis shoe as long as they don’t try to smoke or eat it.
Meanwhile on the policy side, a pair of lawmakers recently wrote a letter to the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), asking that the agency extend access to a coronavirus relief program to hemp farmers.
Photo courtesy of VCS.