FORT LEE, Va. – “Regardless of its widespread availability, it’s a federally prohibited substance and, therefore, illegal within the DOD workforce,” sta… There are a lot of preconceptions about CBD, not to mention what the rules, regulations, and state and federal laws are for military members, veterans, and their families. Products that were not allowed in base housing or for active duty members might be perfectly legal for veterans and spouses, depending on where they live. They might be federally legal, but not legal in the state or municipality where one resides. There are over 30 states in which cannabis use is legal either recreationally or medically. Some military spouses who live in states where marijuana is legal find themselves asking, “Does that mean I can smoke?”
Despite prevalence, CBD still illegal for DOD members
Military members should not confuse the prevalence of CBD products with their legality. Soldiers are prohibited from using hemp products of any sort, whether or not they have been legalized in certain jurisdictions. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
FORT LEE, Va. – “Regardless of its widespread availability, it’s a federally prohibited substance and, therefore, illegal within the DOD workforce,” stated Katina Oates, the Army Substance Abuse Program manager here.
Her remark is in reference to products containing cannabidiol extract, or CBD, which have exploded in popularity as a result of aggressive civilian advertising that touts their benefits as pain relievers, stress reducers, depression inhibitors and more.
“CBD is everywhere,” a recently released Army News article pointed out. “You would be hard-pressed to enter any pharmacy, mega-mart or health food store and not find it on the shelves. CBD can even be purchased online from the comfort of your couch.”
Hemp oil and cannabidiol are one in the same. The array of delivery methods include, but are not limited to, gummy chews, cigarettes and vape pens, oils and skin creams, and sleep medications. CBD is frequently used in personal care treatments at nail salons and by some massage therapists.
“Military members should not confuse the prevalence of such products with their legality,” Oates said. “Soldiers are prohibited from using hemp products of any sort, whether or not they have been legalized in certain jurisdictions.”
Due to CBD being both unregulated and often containing small amounts of THC, the DOD still considers it to be an “illicit drug,” and its use as unauthorized by service members and government civilians, the Army News article warned.
An excerpt from Army Regulation 600-85, dated July 23, 2020, reads as follows: “The use of products made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 USC. 1639o) … regardless of the product’s THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold and used under the law applicable to civilians, is prohibited.”
The other uniformed services have similar regulations prohibiting CBD’s use. There are federal workforce restrictions that apply to government civilians as well – further details are available on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website, samhsa.gov.
According to CBD-product manufacturers, the key hemp-plant-based ingredient is “non-psychoactive,” which means the consumer won’t experience the “high” of typical THC found in cannabis. The disparity in that claim, from the DOD’s perspective, is found in the federal guidelines that say a product is federally legal if it contains less than 0.3 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, meaning the THC is still present.
The market also has been largely unregulated, so nobody can say whether ingredient labels are true to actual cannabis levels. In a recent study of 84 CBD products, 69 percent had higher levels of cannabiol than specified.
Furthermore, with no Federal Drug Administration oversight of the production of CBD products, “there is an increased risk of potential injury related to ingesting potential molds, pesticides and heavy metals,” the Army News article advised.
As for the number of aches and ailments the oil is said to decrease, there is little scientific evidence to support it, according to the popular health information website webmd.com. However, research into hemp-derived medication continues to increase following the FDA’s approval of the CBD drug Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
“Summing up this discussion, I think it’s all about informing our military community about these products and asking them to be mindful of their potential impact on someone’s career,” Oates said.
“Given the DOD and Army’s stance on this subject,” she continued, “there is no room for interpretation if it causes someone to test positive during a random drug test. Think of it as a health issue as well. Part of my office’s responsibility is to inform the community about the risk of using a chemical substance that could be harmful because it lacks oversight and full FDA approval.”
Here’s what you need to know about CBD
There are a lot of preconceptions, not to mention what the rules, regulations, and state and federal laws are for military members, veterans, and their families. Products that were not allowed in base housing or for active duty members might be perfectly legal for veterans and spouses, depending on where they live. They might be federally legal, but not legal in the state or municipality where one resides.
By Patrick Baker | Published May 26, 2020 2:40 PM
There are a lot of preconceptions about CBD, not to mention what the rules, regulations, and state and federal laws are for military members, veterans, and their families. Products that were not allowed in base housing or for active duty members might be perfectly legal for veterans and spouses, depending on where they live. They might be federally legal, but not legal in the state or municipality where one resides.
It’s confusing, but we’re here to help set the record straight on all things CBD. Think of this as your fundamental guide on what CBD is, how you can use it, and whether it’s the right option to help with your current ailments.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of an estimated 200 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the plant species cannabis sativa. (Say that 10 times fast!) You’ve heard of cannabis; you’ve probably also heard of one of its main ingredients: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, which causes the sensation of feeling high.
Unlike THC, CBD and the plants’ other cannabinoids are not psychoactive, meaning they will not get you high. However, CBD has demonstrated in numerous peer-reviewed studies that it can reduce pain and anxiety and is effective in fighting epileptic seizures. This is why the Food and Drug Administration recently approved its first CBD drug, epidiolex.
This is where things get confusing: When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Act into federal law, a single plant, cannabis sativa, suddenly had two names. If the plant has less than 0.3 percent THC, it is now known as “industrial hemp,” and its derivatives are federally legal. If the plant contains more than 0.3 percent THC, then the feds classify it as marijuana. In that case, it remains a Schedule 1 drug per the Controlled Substances Act, right alongside heroin. This should be an easy, hard and fast rule, but plant biology and processing techniques also come into play. At the time of this writing, THC levels commonly found in marijuana dispensaries, which are legal in 33 states (recreational in 11 states for adults over 21 and legal for medical use in 33 states), can vary up to a whopping 30 percent.
If you’re confused, imagine the myriad governmental agencies trying to sort this all out. This is why you may fail a drug test while using CBD products, because you may be using a CBD product derived from high-THC marijuana and not low-THC industrial hemp. Additionally, depending on the test that you take, even extremely low THC content or other cannabinoids found in industrial hemp might trigger a false positive.
Bottom line? Our advice, if you hold a position in which you are drug-tested, is to stay away from CBD. You may be fully compliant with the law, but do you really want to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to prove your case?
Thankfully, these rules do not apply to veterans and dependents. After military service, many veterans have found that CBD lets them dump their cocktail of prescription painkillers and zombie dope so they can enjoy living a normal life. CBD is available in many forms. It’s a great product that safely offers many benefits, without the dangers of addiction or mind-altering intoxication.
How can I get it?
A number of products out there get industrial hemp to the consumer, but like everything else, COVID-19 has made this more challenging. While CBD oil is one of its most common forms, CBD is also available in various topicals, lotions, hemp seed oils, capsules, hand sanitizers, bath bombs, teas, and honey, just to name a few. The fibers found in industrial hemp can also be used in auto parts, clothing, building material, and more. It’s a plant with a long history around the world and in the United States: In the colonial era, George Washington was one of the largest hemp farmers in America. Here is a great video that shows how important hemp was in helping win the Revolutionary War:
Okay, so you’re interested. Wouldn’t it be great if your interest in industrial hemp could also help veterans and our military community?
Warfighter Hemp is on a mission to provide our nation’s veterans with an organic, non addictive, non intoxicating means to improving the overall quality of their lives — and 50 percent of its profits go to veteran organizations. You can see a full list of charities it’s supporting right now, including law enforcement and fire departments across the country that are also receiving Warfighter Hemp–donated hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 crisis. Check out the full list of products to help yourself and to support veterans at the same time.
Can Military Spouses Smoke Marijuana?
There are over 30 states in which cannabis use is legal either recreationaly or medically. Some military spouses who live in states where marijuana is legal find themselves asking, “Does that mean I can smoke?”
The short answer is yes, if it’s legal in your state. The long answer, like most things with the military, is a little more complicated.
If you’re a military spouse or dependent who is hoping to head over to the nearest cannabis dispensary ASAP, here’s what you need to know:
Though affiliated with military, be it active duty, Reserves, or National Guard, military spouses are still treated as civilians in the eyes of the law and the military. So, if something is legal in your state, then military spouses are treated the same as any other civilian.
But that doesn’t give you free reign to smoke wherever you want. This is especially true on government property as it is still a federally-controlled substance. Government property includes on base or in any military housing (on base or off). You can’t bring it on base in your car and you can’t bring it in your house if you’re living in military housing as that is subject to inspection.
Also, be aware that even if you can use cannabis, your service member cannot. That includes Reservists and National Guard because they are bound by federal laws. Further, because it is illegal federally, service members cannot participate in any marijuana related activities. That includes not only ingesting the substance, but also attending marijuana specific festivals and the like. You may also want to be cognizant of whether or not your spouse is in close enough proximity to you to receive a second-hand smoke contact high. If your service member has enough marijuana in his or her system to show up on a drug test, that could be the end of their career, even if they never smoked.
Lastly, remember that driving while under the influence of marijuana is still considered driving impaired and could land you a DUI.
So, what have we learned?
- Yes, military spouses can smoke marijuana if it is legal in the state in which he or she resides.
- No, you cannot bring it on base or in military housing (on base or off) in any form.
- Service members cannot, under any circumstances, ingest marijuana regardless of where they live as it is still a federally controlled substance.
- Driving with marijuana in your system is still considered driving under the influence.
Kristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.
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