Is CBD Use Permitted in the Military?
Military members have physically and mentally taxing jobs. CBD’s many benefits seem like a perfect fit for these purposes. If you’re a man or woman in uniform, you may be asking: is CBD federally legal for military?
According to a 2020 article in the Military Times, despite being federally legal for civilians, the Pentagon has made CBD use strictly forbidden among active duty and reserve military personnel. The statement issued puts forth the reason that hemp-derived products will obfuscate the results of drug tests. This applies to the Navy and Marine Corps too. Matthew Donovan, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, issued the following statement:
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.
…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.”
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.”
Reminder: CBD Oil Remains Illegal for DOD Personnel
Photo By Jeffrey Castro | CID Lookout is a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command initiative to partner with the Army community by providing a conduit for members of the Army family to help prevent, reduce and report felony-level crime. see less | View Image Page
QUANTICO, VA, UNITED STATES
Story by Ronna Weyland
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division
QUANTICO, VA ( Jan. 11, 2022) – Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, usage and popularity is on the rise across the United States and can be found in food products and everyday household items used for personal hygiene.
While CBD may be legal in most areas, the Army Criminal Investigation Division is reminding the military community that usage and possession is still illegal for Department of Defense personnel.
According to Special Agent Chawn Roundtree, Drug Suppression Team (DST) Team Chief, Fort Belvoir Resident Agency (CID), 3D Military Police GP, all forms of CBD are illegal for Army military and civilian personnel because traces of the Cannabis Sativa plant, can still be found in the CBD Oil.
SA Roundtree, and his team members said the military community may have a misconception that CBD is legal due to recent state law changes. However, it is still illegal to use or possess CBD products on military installations regardless of being a dependent, civilian, or active duty service member.
“It is illegal to introduce drugs, such as CBD on military installations, including through the United States Postal Service,” said SA Roundtree. “This means you cannot order products containing CBD and have them mailed to your on-post residence, regardless of status on the installation.”
Army CID investigates the distribution of controlled substances through the postal system for three purposes: to interdict the flow of controlled substances through the mail system, to identify DoD-affiliated drug violators abusing the mail system, and to deter other potential drug violators from using the mail to distribute controlled substances.
CID officials believe confusion may stem from the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
According to this legislation, hemp was removed from the federal government’s list of controlled substances and became legal if it contained less than 0.3 percent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, under federal law, marijuana remains illegal thus making usage prohibited. This includes CBD.
For this reason in February 2020, the Honorable Matthew Donovan, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the time, released a memo directing all branches of the armed forces to issue regulations or general orders prohibiting the use of hemp products.
Army Regulation 600-85 dated 23 July 2020, states “the use of products made or derived from hemp including cannabidiol CBD, 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, regardless of the route of administration or use.”
Examples of products that are prohibited include products that are injected, inhaled, or otherwise introduced into the human body; food products, topical lotions and oils; soaps and shampoos; and other cosmetic products that are applied directly to the skin.
The DoD policy on legal and illegal substances is in place to ensure that service members stay healthy, are able to perform their duties, and do not get dishonorably discharged due to drug use.
CID has investigative responsibility for all offenses having an Army interest involving substances listed in Schedule I through Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act, said SA Roundtree.
On April 7, 2021, the Virginia General Assembly voted to approve amendments proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam, making Virginia the 17th in the nation, to legalize cannabis for adults.
The new law took effect on July 1 making it legal for adults to legally possess and share up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to four cannabis plants at their primary residence.
According to SA Roundtree, the Fort Belvoir Resident Agency (CID) DST, which serves both Fort Belvoir, and Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall, has seen an increase since April 2021 of more than double the amount of cases involving THC from the previous two years.
SA Roundtree and his team believes this a direct correlation to the “states legalization of cannabis.”
“It is highly likely other military installations residing in states that have passed this law are seeing similar trends,” said SA Roundtree.
CBD use in the military is punishable under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Failure to Obey a Lawful General Order.