CBD in the Military

Is CBD Use Permitted in the Military?

3 minute read

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.

According to the Army CBD policy 2020

…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.”

Will CBD Make you Fail a Drug Test?

Put simply, yes. But with some caveats. 

Full spectrum products contain less than 0.3 percent THC, which could be detected by a drug test. Even at this low amount, it’s possible. The duration, dosage, and how a person metabolizes cannabinoids all influence test results. 

Furthermore, since CBD is not FDA regulated, products on the market often do not accurately state what they actually contain. So, it is possible that THC levels are high (no pun intended) enough to be detected by a test if the product being used is not what it claims to be. 

(We explored this topic in a previous post entitled, Will CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test?)

Does the Military Test for CBD?

The military does not test for CBD specifically, but because hemp and marijuana are technically the same plant—cannabis—with different cannabinoid makeup, there are still trace amounts of THC in hemp products.

The military does test for THC, which is why military members should avoid CBD. 

CBD isolate does not contain any THC, so military members would not fail a drug test if they take isolate from a trusted source. However, with the Pentagon officials’ direct statement, military members may face consequences if caught with any CBD product. 

Can You Smoke Delta 8 in the Military?

No. Delta-8 military use is not permitted and would result in a failed drug test. Drug tests search for THC metabolites, meaning enzymes that break down THC. The test cannot distinguish between delta-8 and delta-9 (what we traditionally think of as THC).

If you’re not familiar, delta-8 has a similar chemical structure to THC. It creates a psychoactive reaction that is much milder than delta-9.

The status of delta-8 remains controversial as it floats in legal limbo in some states. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production and distribution of hemp and hemp products, there is nothing specifically noting delta-8. But federally, the Department of Justice released an interim bill declaring delta-8 as a Schedule 1 substance. So it’s best to avoid delta-8 military use. 

Congress Takes Action

Roughly five months after the Pentagon established its policy on CBD, The House passes a measure allowing military service members to use CBD products.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), states:

Secretary of Defense may not prohibit, on the basis of a product containing hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp, the possession, use, or consumption of such product by a member of the Armed Forces” as long as the crop meets the federal definition of hemp and that “such possession, use, or consumption is in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law.

The bill also features a measure that allows for those who admit to using marijuana, or were convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense, once, an application for re-enlistment.

When it comes to cannabis, Gabbard is a downright activist. Turns out she is writing bills to encourage research into the efficacy of CBD for various therapeutic benefits.

The “Hemp for Victory Act,” bill would mandate studies into just about everything including:

  • use of hemp food products for public school lunches
  • the potential therapeutic value of the crop’s extracts for veterans suffering from PTSD
  • ability to clear contaminants from nuclear sites

Despite Gabbard’s amendment and the House version of the bill, it remains to be seen whether any cannabis policy reform provisions will make it into the Senate version. So far, there does appear to be some language addressing hemp and its derivatives surrounding the discussion. 

As a veteran owned CBD company, these policies have a special meaning to us. After his tour in Iraq, our founder began this company as a result of the positive impact CBD had on treating PTSD. Our company prides itself on being an GMP certified lab that puts science at the heart of what we do, and therefore, encourage any and all research on cannabis to flourish.

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