The Department of Veterans Affairs has stepped in it again concerning one Minnesota veteran’s emergency room bill and subsequent denial.

That veteran is me, Benjamin Krause, and the problem of VA wrongly denying veterans coverage for ER bills during legitimate emergencies is about to hit the fan. I have been working with AJ Lagoe and the KARE 11 News team to help get the word out to veterans before more veterans are economically injured by this particular VA screw job.

WATCH: Krause ER Bill Story via KARE 11

For you folks new to my website, this is not my first rodeo, and certainly not my first time working with KARE 11 to expose systemic problems in how VA treats veterans. Personally, I fought VA for 15 years on my disability compensation claim.

In working with AJ at KARE 11, we exposed the lunacy of the Veterans Choice “crow flies” distance limitation. KARE 11 won an award for that, and the piece was featured on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

We then exposed that VA was using unqualified doctors to examine veterans with traumatic brain injuries. My client was patient zero, and Lagoe’s investigation exposed a national scandal affecting almost 25,000 veterans.

Both scandals were national, and AJ won numerous awards for his work. I have no doubt this emergency room scandal will eclipse the size of the traumatic brain injury scandal, which we know affects almost 100,000 veterans annually.

FOLLOW: AJ Investigates On Facebook

Background On ER Visit

The nuts and bolts of this are as follows. Veterans are required to notify VA within 72 hours of receiving emergency care at a non-VA facility. VA is supposed to pay so long as the emergency was a legitimate emergency regardless of the final diagnosis.

RELATED: 3 Things A Veteran Must Do After A Non-VA ER Visit

On February 21, 2017, I experienced chest pains and neurological impairment due to malignant hypertension due to stress just days after a family member died of pancreatic cancer (burn pit exposure, Iraq War Veteran) at 36 years old. My wife immediately took me to the nearest ER, where I received treatment for the next 9 hours. Once home, I notified VA using its IRIS email system and also faxed notice to the VA medical center where I am registered.

The program used to be called Fee Basis and is now renamed Non-VA Care. It is supposed to cover situations like mine. I even called senior executives in VA Central Office, informed them of the issue, and was promised the claim would be processed properly.

RELATED: VA Engaging In Bad Faith Denials Of ER Bills

That was then. Two months later, nothing happened. VA never reached out to the VA facility, and VA Central Office apparently failed to reach out to Minneapolis VA.

On May 5, 2017, I faxed the ER bill to Minneapolis VA directly and circled back around with VA Central Office since no one in VA had yet contacted the ER to cover the bill.

On May 19, 2017, I received a denial stating the reason I sought emergency care was not consistent with some “prudent layperson” standard used by the Non-VA Care department. Coincidentally, the processing of these claims is directed by VA’s Chief Business Office at Denver VA, and much of that processing is likely handled by a government contractor.

We later learned VA denied the claim without FIRST requesting copies of the medical records in order to make the determination.

Now, for an agency that is supposedly veterans friendly, would it not make sense to review the medical record prior to denying a claim while also asserting the veteran did not even meet the prudent layperson standard while in distress?

If you said, “Yes,” I would agree with you. Except, VA is not exactly veteran friendly, despite its mandate.

Does this also seem like a possible defamation issue?

I am an attorney. VA accused me of lacking the sense or state of mind of even a prudent layperson in writing. Would you hire an attorney who lacked the sense of a layperson?

Instead of requesting my records and reviewing them prior tot the denial, VA used the “Great Benefit” scam we see in the movie Rainmaker. There, the scam insurance company Great Benefit denies first and asks questions never resulting in the preventable death of a young man sick with cancer.

I would argue VA lacks the sense of even a prudent layperson, who would likely check records before making a derogatory assertion about a leading veterans rights attorney.

Am I wrong, here?

As of this publication, VA has acknowledged fault and that it will pay the bill. That is one hell of a quick turn around for a denial.

Think it had anything to do with the fact that the veteran being screwed was me, and that I have deep ties with the press that can expose any newsworthy issue immediately?


For this, I turned to review the regulation cited using the Cornell legal database, which states for the relevant regulation concerning emergency care:

(b)In a medical emergency. Emergency treatment not previously authorized including medical services, professional services, ambulance services, ancillary care and medication (including a short course of medication related to and necessary for the treatment of the emergency condition that is provided directly to or prescribed for the patient for use after the emergency condition is stabilized and the patient is discharged) was rendered in a medical emergency of such nature that a prudent layperson would have reasonably expected that delay in seeking immediate medical attention would have been hazardous to life or health. This standard is met by an emergency medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) that a prudent layperson who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in placing the health of the individual in serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

Basically, it says VA will pay facilities for care provided to certain veterans when a prudent layperson (whatever that means) would reasonably expect a lack of immediate care could result in putting that veteran’s health in serious jeopardy, impairment of bodily function, or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

Personally, it seems reasonable to me now to believe my heart my stop due to heart attack or stroke. I assume “heart stopping” or “death” is sufficient to meet the serious dysfunction standard.

So what is the problem? Why is VA confused on my case? Further, why are countless veterans receiving denials who sought emergent medical care for heart attack or stroke symptoms?


The “prudent layperson” standard originated from Medicare law in the 1980’s and was established as a standard for Medicaid effective October 1997. The standard was then adopted by VA in 2010 per the Federal Register.

Using my cyber-sleuthing techniques (ie Google within 5 seconds), I was able to dig up a VA document that explains the standard, its use in VA adjudications now, and an explanation of medical necessity. This document made me wonder how Minneapolis VA and its Non-VA Care Department could screw up my claim.

I would like to repeat one thing. It took my 5 seconds to find a sheet published by VA that explains how to assess a case and what the prudent layperson means.

Would you be surprised to learn it addresses a case exactly like mine – – and that such cases should be approved – – not denied?

DOWNLOAD: VA Prudent Layperson Fact Sheet (from Puget Sound VAMC)

And, I know, some of you may be saying, “Well, you were not diagnosed with a heart attack, so maybe VA was correct to determine your symptoms did not show a medical emergency requiring emergent care.”

I can see why you would say this, but VA’s own guidance on the subject explains this reasoning is incorrect.

Now, instead, you may be saying, “Many VA executives hate you, Ben, so why would you expect to be treated fairly?” I will get to this in a second.

In bold print, that Prudent Layperson Fact Sheet states, “A determination of a medical emergency focuses on the patient’s presenting symptoms rather than the final diagnosis.”


The full section on medical necessity reads:

Any medical condition of recent onset manifesting itself by acute severity of symptoms, including severe pain. A determination of a medical emergency focuses on the patient’s presenting symptoms rather than the final diagnosis.  

Adjudicative decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. However, certain conditions are the leading cause to seek emergency treatment. These conditions include, but are not limited to: loss of consciousness, seizure, no recognition of one side of the body, paralysis, chest pain, shock, gangrene, coughing blood, trouble breathing, and choking.  

Cases that fall into categories that may be chronic or blatantly non-emergent generally do not fall into qualifying for immediate treatment under the prudent layperson standard. Normal follow-up of a medical condition, removal of stitches, or medication refills would generally be considered as non-emergent conditions under the prudent layperson standard.

Notice the explanation includes symptoms I experienced including chest pain and trouble breathing. Again, since I experience chest pain, and this was reported to the emergency department, how come Minneapolis VA denied my claim?

Coincidentally, Case Example A in the document addresses a similar situation as mine, where the veteran presented with a complaint of chest pain:

A patient presents to the emergency department with a complaint of chest pain. The patient is examined and evaluated and discharged with a diagnosis of mild gastric irritation. Retrospective analysis by a Fee Basis Unit may determine that gastro-intestinal upset is not an appropriate use of an emergency department and deny the claim as non-emergent. However, the patient’s initial judgment seeking emergency treatment regarding his/her chest pain, a potentially serious problem, is appropriate. This type of visit clearly falls into the category of what any prudent lay person would consider an appropriate use of an emergency department.

Seems open and shut, right? And, since VACO offered to help resolve the matter, why was my claim denied despite being on point with VA’s own guidance?

Tens Of Thousands Of Veterans Affected

Each year, approximately 90,000 veterans are denied coverage based on the prudent layperson standard. According to an audit, many of those denials are due to inconsistent application of policy and standards. Those denials allow VA to save approximately $3 billion each year.

For veterans wrongly denied, they are forced into a financial hardship or bankruptcy, all the while VA plays hide the pea with our benefits.

So, that is the background, and why this is a big deal.

Please enjoy the news video and write to AJ Lagoe at KARE 11 ([email protected]) if you have a similar story to VA denying your claim based on the prudent layperson standard. You can also merely sent AJ an email thanking him for his work to expose systemic problems within VA.

Either way, I am sure he would like to hear from you.

The KARE 11 team are working to put together a bigger story of the national scope of this particular issue. What will it take to reform this muddy system of obfuscation?


Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve

Go get ’em,Big Ben shove it up their rotten behinds and twist it.


They MEANT to call you ‘impudent,’ Bud. But we all know you ain’t shootin blanks…?

R.T. H.
I go to a pin specialist under Choice. It is a pill mill and you better be armed, because you will be robbed by the clients. I just get injections in spine, I question if there not just saline ( so I feel a burn) Went to a private one several years ago ( attached to orthopedics office) and shots lasted three plus months, now they have me monthly. No legit place takes Choice. I was sent to urologist after… Read more »
Jessica Pleasant
The VA in anchorage sent me to pain clinic that doesnt prescribe pills at all. The shot he gave me was the strongest steroid out there. He literally said do not get in any fights, I laughed I was going to be the Hulk. He said that in the past the shots were probably just cortisone and didn’t help. He said the VA may not pay for the med used, but I am also on alaska state insurance, so I… Read more »
Crazy elf

Hey, Ben, I gotta sneaky suspicion A.J.Lago is going to be “bombarded” with emails from lots, and I do mean LOTS, of vets who’ve been screwed by VA over this issue!

Keep the pressure on these VA reprobates, Ben!

“[… What will it take to reform this muddy system of obfuscation?]” My humble layperson opinion recommends a prudent enema because the swamp is muddy with obfuscated assholes at the VA. Why don’t they just get it over with and remove the word “Veteran” from Veteran Affairs and rename it “Indifferent Affairs”? Rat Bastards! I wonder what a VSO Piggy does when they are volunteering in private hospitals all over the USA and one of the piggies have a medical… Read more »

VSO Piggy (VSOP)

Jessica Pleasant

Indifferent Affairs wonderful! Lol

Kathy Owen
I have several emergency room bills that the VA denied my husband, and their excuse for the denial? Not service connected! or the illness or injury was not service connected, or the reason for the chest pains was not service connected. That’s what it all boils down to that they use every single time…not “service connected” Even though we live 90 miles one way from the Phoenix VA with a car that won’t make the trip, and my husband has… Read more »
Jessica Pleasant

I feel ya.



Funny you should use the Puget Sound VAMC. They denied my ER visit to the Skagit Valley Hospital, Mount Vernon WA when I shattered my right ankle. My whole foot was shoved forward and to the right side of my leg. The one thing I did not do was call 72 hours after the visit. I informed the nurse at the hospital I had VA Healthcare. I was later informed that the hospital decided to send me to Harborview Hospital… Read more »
Genius H Kennard
I ‘ve had the most unbelievable thing happen to me when i went to the VA for a stroke, THEY DIDN’T CHARGE ME A DIME because of my housing situation but they always deny me everything and i still don’t have a rating and they still say I’m not service connected for my benefits from Oct. 22, 2009 when i applied for benefits, very strange and uncoordinated fools! Even a high paying VA employee can’t pay VA medical bills &… Read more »
The VA makes up its own rules! They do whatever they feel like. I’m battling them too in a different issue, and no matter how much of the law I throw in their face, they just ignore it and can’t find anyone to hold their feet to the fire. This is outrageous. I applaud you Ben, but unfortunately, that’s how the VA works – they make their own rules. Statute and/or case law does not apply to them. They violate… Read more »
Jessica Pleasant

In my law classes they talked about programs like the VA and EPA….they have full control to make up their own rules. If they do something wrong I think they have lawyers staffed just to find a loop hole. That’s where their money goes to jk lol



When you quote anything to them in english then most likely to them you ARE speaking a foreign language.

Genius H Kennard
They try so much to be like social security as far as to deny every veteran benefits even when they see what is in your Service Treatment Medical Records and they pass you case back and forth to the regional office and BVA and then to US Court of Appeals, all of that nonsense is unnecessary and it has to stop immediately! They all see what’s in your records, they even tried to deny me because of an article 15… Read more »
Genius H Kennard

I did almost everything better than the soldiers in my platoon! WITNESSED AND BRAGGED UPON.

Witnessed that also Genius. Even had men from my unit try to co-opt me in their exaggerations. My war stories are from Americans and Allies not the enemy. Trying to fill out a form now for the VA on PTSD. Just can’t face to it. And never was in a fire fight or under fire by the enemy. Figure that one out. And I didn’t think having a pistol barrel poked up your nose after watching a woman nearly get… Read more »

I think it wouldn’t if I hadn’t had the later TBI while on liberty in the land of the great PX.

Rob D
I didn’t go to the ER even though I was having chest pains, I got the standard- call an ambulance and go to the local ER- from the VA when I called , but she couldn’t guarantee the bill would be paid when I asked about that, (Apparently nobody really can, so it’s a crap shoot) I found someone to drive me the 50 miles up to the VAMC and was admitted for a couple days after they decided it… Read more »
Jessica Pleasant

Thats what you get. Call the VA nurses line, and they are worthless…go to local er, then tell me that even tho you recommended me to you don’t know if it will be covered. Our vs was 3 hours away. If I was taken by car there when my neck gave me migraines I would have been sick all over the car. So I got screwed with a lot of medical ER visits

…Sqwauk….Sqwauk….buzzzzzzz. radio clearing… Veteran inbound to point VA, Bravo Echo November, this is combat control, and your IFF code is confirmed. You authorized for a weapons fence check at this time. Weapons hot code follows… stand by…. …sqwauk… Bravo Echo November your IFF and countermeasures systems confirm weapons hot code verification….Vet you are a go to hop the neighbors fence and terminate any and all targets at your discretion. Good luck and report on outbound leg – poop cannon support… Read more »

Abel Baker Charlie this Roger Fox Dog
Who is it man?
I dunno – but they’re talkin awfully bad about Roger


In a well discipline army absolutely nobody is alive very long in combat who is named “William”. They opt for “Bill” as the shortened version…

“Fire at will!!!”


Standing-by for poop canon support on my end, quite literally. Have had a really bad intestinal flu bug and all can do to keep hydrated. Lots of good shit going to waste.

Jessica Pleasant
I was let go nearly 7 years by Tennessee VA into almost full paralysis. I had severe case of cervical myelopathy but made to feel like I was malingering by the VA. I was denied left and right for things because cervical myelopathy can not be rated, each neurological damage had to be rated one by one. The TN VA did an xray, I went for a follow up. The doctor acted like it was just one of those 10… Read more »

@Jessica– I so want to move up there in two years or so. However, it may end-up being WA or OR, then visit often. Need to lighten my footprint and go up bare essentials and start over. Ohio is indeed a ratty mess at their VAMC’s. Not a fan and reason I use Medicare…until the VA gets safe for all Veterans, then I might think about it. I love cold weather and snow and ice.

@Ben, the things that you do to get a story. Now, it’s fake pain and an emergency room visit. God Bless you. Yeah, I have pretty much the same situations. It’s a year ago, but there’s still bills. I service connected for conditions putting me in the ambulance, then hospital. I remember telling the ambulance people to bill the VA. Didn’t wake up for four days. So, my friendly VA wouldn’t discuss it. Three day rule. Keep up the great… Read more »
Richard M. Levine

What were you billed for the ER visit? I think that would add to the power of the story. I heard once a story where the bill was many thousands. I think that they puff up bills when the patient has no insurance or looks like they would not costest overcharges.

W2 Team Leader
My TBI exam experience (repost to get it out there to more people) The X VA medical center did this to me too. My c&p exam for my TBI they had me walk in to a conference room with probably 8-10 people sitting around this table (so right away this seems strange to me) they each took turns going around their table grilling me with questions about my head trauma from when I was in Iraq and the trauma prior.… Read more »

@W2 Team Leader: LOC is NOT REQUIRED in order to have suffered a TBI. They denied your TBI, erroneously. I hope that you filed a NOD. ANY expert witness, would have a field day with them. Don’t let this go, follow through, you WILL WIn!!!!!!

Genius H Kennard

To: Veterans, try to always go to the VA’s ER with a witness (spouse, girlfriend) or lawyer if possible.


Best to go by ambulance and get the attendants” names. Their company wants to get paid too. I maid the mistake of having someone drive me and that began the questions.

When I went by ambulance I had no problem on another occasion.

W2 Team Leader
Continued.. I left out something very important. So when I was explaining the incident over in the sand box my head injury I “did” tell them I feel I what they referrred to as “blacking out” for maybe a second till my buddies were able to get me to med. they responded with “you have to had blacked out for 3 or more seconds to be considered as having a TBI”. Again, unbelievable pathetic just wow. And to this day… Read more »

You suffered a TBI, how the hell exactly, do they expect you to know, how the fuck long you were blacked out for? Again, LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, is NOT REQUIRED, in order to have a TBI. Get an opinion, from an independent neurologist, you will win!!!!!

Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve

find a really good med malpractice lawyer and file a lawsuit against all persons who were involved in this decision. Before you do get the paperwork which contained this decision. This is part of your medical treatment and you will win $$$$ against these miserable creeps

Ex va

Ben, you were physically and mentally in crisis and needed to receive emergency care. You meet the requirement of emergency care. Your pain left untreated could cause you more complications with your heart or blood pressure. These bills met the definition or criteria of being paid by the va. They just want to deny, deny, deny…..


Ben – You and I should really chat. We are both in the MN, however I go to the Fargo VA which is really screwed up. And Fargo VA takes care of all veterans in the upper MN area and ND as there is no one else to go to. We also get sent to the Minneapolis one when needed.

Had an interesting evening last night in one of my rare social interactions with other humans and indeed involves we Veterans and the VA. In the booth behind us was a group that had been indulging in the brain lubrication liquid obviously, for a while before I met some loose friends seated in booth nested back-to-back to the getting louder ever more group of lubricated tongues. What perked my ears up was when one interjected loudly over others talking, stating:… Read more »

I have worked as a bouncer when not DJ’ing in the past, and learned to loathe drunken assholes and believe it or not, the fights amongst the women were the most vicious and difficult to disarm.

With that experience under my belt, I knew to best leave the situation, creating a boundary for my PTSD and exiting after at least saying something to those dicks.

@namnibor, The next time one of the scum sucking pond dwelling botom feeders known as a VA employee shows up a your local estalishment doing this, take the time to excuse youself to the batender or better yet make an excuse to go compliment the cooking staff in the kitchen. Tell them they are great people. Ask if any of them are a vets and thank hem especiallly for their service… then tell them off-hand what the loudmouth thinks of… Read more »
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve

Too bad you couldn’t have called & recruited a few friends to meet these punks outside for a little extra-curricular P.T. Really sorry to resort to this but these punks who “work” for the VA need to change their attitude; time for an attitude adjustment. (Were these pukes also veterans?)

Have no idea if any of them were actual Veterans, as I did not trust myself to stick around long enough to eavesdrop for any more time, nor wanted to engage them. As far as a few friends recruiting…little hard to do since each and every person I called a friend has passed-away over last 7 years, and I am in a new city to me for as much time…and am very slow to warm-up and make new best friends… Read more »
Seymore Klearly

You handled the situation well Namnibor. Given the VA employees were probably loaded on more than just alcohol. There is no sense in catching a case for losing it on the worthless VA employees.

Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve

Yes, Namnibor, Seymore is right on, unless you had a good tape recorder that you could have stated was for recording some music at the place and produced this tape recording via an intermediary, and then let others take the necessary remedial measures at the VAMC, there was no other right thing for you to do. You did good. The gigglers were probably on something.

Frederick L. Payne
This is a reprint of a National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) Notice to Veterans who are suffering the same fate as Mr. Krause, it is not widely known. AJ Lagoe at KARE 11 ([email protected]) was informed of this decision prior to publication of this article, any veterans who have been denied should refile a appeal in accordance with the Staab vs. McDonald decision as a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE). I congratulate and honor the efforts of Mr. Lagoe… Read more »

You get an unboogered cookie for that post! Well done!

“…VA…became wholly inconsistent…” – with the governing statute… O.k. I will buy that descritption, but your honor does that not beg the REAL question? Exactly which governing authority or regulation is it that VA is ACTUALLY consistent with? A quick perusal of my own record and of public information validated to be true that I offered now into evidence, suggests that they are also wholly inconsistent with just the quick read of the following list. I present this list so… Read more »
Crazy elf
#1.) BREAKING NEWS: From: “Fox News” channel 35 (local Orlando Florida) Titled: “Congressman Steve Scalise (R) shot at baseball field in Alexandria, Va.!” (The shooter has NOT been caught yet!) It’s an ongoing investigation! A total “of four republicans were shot” during the baseball game. It’s thought the shooter was also shot and killed! It’s getting bad out there, brothers and sisters! Be careful where you got. And be aware of your surroundings, like your were on patrol in a… Read more »


Will post more later but for now, this is just a small sampling of what we deal with locally trying to group up or find other vets dealing with Indiana’s corruption or the VA’s. “you are a fucking drug addict so quit fucking bitching” “” This kind of stuff comes from other vets, VA staff and their families, town council members, college kiddies, the Antifa, special interest groups, vet groups, etc. Media supported, college supported, all the rest. Nice huh?… Read more »
T, Deanna Albrittin of fox 59 news did an update on the opioid prescribing practice of the Northern IN VAMC’s. After her story aired, I e-mailed her and she called me. We had a little over 40 minute talk about her story and how it has changed from trying to help veterans continue what has been helping to being on the VA’s side. She tried to tell me that she only had a couple of minutes in which to do… Read more »
First off, Thanks for the info and link. To my knowledge there are NO lawmakers doing anything about Indiana’s VA, veteran’s issues, corruption in the state entirely, or about pain management. Hogsett, Donnelly, Kersey, all media, vet groups, Hancock, Dr. Slime Golla, patient advocates, the past and present governors, attorney general, any staff, medical boards, etc. are all a pathetic lying joke spouting lies about being concerned about us over any issues. I have written to the White House and… Read more »
T, I tried to get Deanna to include that this is not just a state VA problem and it is a nationwide problem. Us veterans are getting screwed across the country and that needs to be included so the civilian population can see that we have no voice, no say in our care, nothing. Her response was that “they” want her to keep it local. I agree that this state insures that what gets out will sound as if it… Read more »
Civilian care today is no better than the VA. They all refuse anything, care, treatments, meds, that actually work. I had my fill with physical therapy which is a waste of time unless it was needed like after a fall or injured shoulders that I had trouble moving. Hell, I get more therapy here at home other than the money game for the ring of doctors or therapist we are told to fill their wallets over. I still have a… Read more »

It is all the same T. Insurance company boards decide how much to pay private care hence a pull back from care of the 1950s and 1960s. For the VA it is the Congressional VA Committees (behind closed doors on this decision).

Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
It appears that giving medical care to employees of the VA which pays the Medicare PLUS what the supplemental charges are vs. only paying doctors the medicare fees for veterans which the “Choice” program allows, violates certain standards as well as the Equal Rights Section of the U.S. Constitution even though being a veteran is not a “suspect class”, (alienage, race,) nor is the provision of medical treatment a fundamental right, there is a legal hook upon which we veterans… Read more »

I read the new accountability bill is friendlier to employees. How is that possible? The way things have gone the last 80 years, well, guess I have trust issues.

Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve
Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve

Find out who supported the various parts of the Bill, which do not support us Vets and organize and go after and spotlight the ones who are our enemies and remove them from the Congress, vote them out make them the laughing stock of the country…………………………………………..


@Dennis, I saw yesterday that AG Sessions wants to go after, ” medical marijuana ” growers. I thought you supplied information that Sessions wasn’t given funds to do that. So, where is he getting the funds?

Seymore Klearly

Here is a link to the letter that Sessions wrote regarding marijuana.