Congress Approves CBD Use for Military Service Members

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CBD leaf on CBD on cream

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved an amendment that lifts the prohibition that prevented military service members from using products containing hemp and its derivatives that include CBD.

The measure specifies that the “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”. The product should meet the federal definition of hemp and its possession, consumption, or use should comply with the federal, state, and local law.

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and passed by a vote of 336-71, as a part of a package that included a bill passed earlier this month. The bill, introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and later approved by committee permitted the heads of military branches to grant waivers to service member applying to re-enlist and having admitted to using marijuana or were convicted of a misdemeanor cannabis offense, once.

Along with this, the package included several other non-cannabis amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Gabbard, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and a military veteran, has been a supporter of cannabis research and filed a standalone bill the previous year. It was aimed at modernizing the hemp industry and urged federal research into prospective applications of the crop.

The bill, “Hemp for Victory Act”, would mandate research and studies into the extensive applications that would range from the use of cannabis products for public school lunches to the potential benefits of using the crop’s extract to treat post-traumatic stress disorder that veterans suffer from to even exploring its ability to clear contaminants from nuclear sites.

In recent months, various military branches issued statements that prevented service members from using the non-intoxicating marijuana despite its federal legalization under the 2018 Farm Bill which has caused a conflict.



The Department of Defense (DOD) announced the policy that barred all active and reserve service members from consuming hemp products, which includes CBD. The memo issued by the department acknowledged the legalization of hemp, but it also said that the risk of exposure to products that contain excess THC was far too significant.

This led to a series of on hemp and CBD policy issued by various military branches.
The DOD and the Air Force,having considered this issue previously, were of the similar belief that members should be prohibited from using hemp-derived CBD.

Despite its legality, the Navy reminded their ranks last year that they are prohibited from using CBD. The Coast Guards, too, barred the sailors from using marijuana or visit state-legal dispensaries.

NASA, which is not part of the military, stood behind the concerns of the military and warned their employees that it could cost their jobs since CBD products could contain unauthorized THC concentrations, leading to a failed drug test.

Last year, the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released guidance to the drug program coordinators of the federal agency that mentioned concerns about failed drug tests due to THC presence in CBD products.

This could have been a major concern for the military authorities and could have been a reason for the policy updates.

The congresswoman included it in her latest amendment to resolve this issue. It has been attached to the House version of the NDAA. However, whether any cannabis policy reform provisions will make it to the Senate version or not, remains to be seen.

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