Lawmakers seek to soften stance on cannabis in the military
The first amendment to H.R. 2670 would eliminate marijuana drug testing for people enlisting in the military and those earning a new rank. It comes amidst reports that 33 percent more recruits tested positive for cannabis in 2022 compared to 2020.
Facing a shortage of new members, the military is already easing up its tolerance of cannabis consumers. Over the last five years, 3,400 potential recruits who initially tested positive for marijuana were allowed a grace period to test again.
In addition to relaxing the rules on drug testing, lawmakers are pushing for changes regarding the use of CBD. An amendment proposed by Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican from Texas, would permit members of the armed forces to use CBD and hemp products as long as they comply with local and federal law. The 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized CBD, provided products contain less than 0.3% THC.
A focus on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rounds out recent pro-pot amendments. Similar to the Veterans Equal Access Act introduced in April, this amendment would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. Currently, veterans can discuss therapeutic cannabis but must go outside the VA to get certified for a medical marijuana license.
As federal marijuana legalization looms and more states enact reform, it only makes sense for the military to change with the times. While the Department of Defense has long held a conservative stance on cannabis, they will likely need to shift their policies in order to attract new members and ensure veterans get the relief they need due to service-related injuries and mental health conditions.