Legislation and Policy

The Pentagon Forbids Troops to Use CBD

Petar Petrov
Written by Petar Petrov

CBD, along with cannabis altogether, has been proving to be a refreshing change from prescription medications for PTSD and other similar conditions that are a big part of the daily lives of many war veterans and military personnel. The cannabinoid is a safer, more natural, non-intrusive, non-addictive, and for many people all-around better alternative to the traditional treatment methods of these often debilitating psychological issues. On top of that, after the passage of 2018 Farm Bill, CBD and hemp that contain under 0.3% THC are legal at the federal level.

Despite all that, the Pentagon continues to tighten up its regulations of CBD and hemp-derived products use among U.S. troops, which already left little to no leeway for it. While last year, two of the four Department of Defense (DoD) services – the Navy and the Marine Corps – were allowed to use CBD topicals like shampoo, creams, and lotions, these liberties are now over. For the other two DoD services – Air Force and Army – that has been the status quo since last year under Article 92.

The reason? The risk of THC content in a product exceeding 0.3% due to the lack of sufficient FDA oversight, and respectively the risk of these elevate THC levels showing up on a drug test.

“I specifically find a military necessity to require a prohibition of this scope to ensure the military drug testing program continues to be able to identify the use of marijuana, which is prohibited, and to spare the U.S. military the risks and adverse effects marijuana use has on the mission readiness of individual service members and military units,” Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan wrote in a memo.

The Coast Guard allows its members to consume food products that contain hemp ingredients and will continue to do so despite the extra tightening of the existing regulations. However, they still forbid the use of hemp oil and hemp seed oil products.

It’s worth noting that the FDA-approved medications with CBD and/or synthetic cannabis like Epidiolex, Syndros, and Marinol remain out of the new, stricter regulations’ reach. Same goes for unknowingly consuming products that contain CBD or hemp.

It’s probably true that the Pentagon has its troops’ best interest at heart, looking to protect them against accidentally failing career-ending drug tests. And it is absolutely true that being intoxicated in any way, shape or form on duty in the military line of work should indeed be a hard no. However, forbidding troops to take CBD altogether to make sure those things don’t happen is like keeping your child locked in its room at all times to make sure nothing happens to it.

Instead, perhaps a better way forward, which would be more in line with both the developments in the medical and wellness sectors and troops’ needs, is better, more dynamic and flexible, human testing, rather than only adhering to black-or-white thresholds that don’t always tell the full story, which in the military is usually complicated enough already.

Image Credits: Health.mil

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Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov

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