The Pentagon quietly moves to make the CBD use a criminal offense for troops

US troops can now be punished for using products that contain hemp or cannabidiol, according to a recently released Department of Defense memo.

In February, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Preparedness Matthew Donovan ordered services to issue general orders or regulations by March 1, prohibiting the use of hemp products under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

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Donovan’s note, dated February 26, was highlighted in a tweet Monday by DoD’s Operation Supplement Safety, an initiative within the University of Uniformed Health Sciences Services that provides information to service members about dietary supplements. .

Troops have known since last year that most products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, were off limits, and two of the DoD’s four services issued guidance restricting the use of any form of CBD, including supplements. , creams, ointments and tinctures.

But the new orders make use of hemp and punitive CBD on all Defense Department active duty personnel and reserve components, including the Navy and Marine Corps, whose members were authorized by the Department of the Navy to use topical products such as shampoo, lotions and creams.

Donovan said the move was necessary to “protect the integrity of the drug testing program.”

“I specifically find a military need to demand a ban of this scope to ensure that the military drug testing program continues to be able to identify the use of marijuana, which is prohibited, and to avoid the risks and adverse effects to the US military. who has the use of marijuana on the mission readiness of individual service members and military units, “he wrote.

The federal government removed hemp from its list of controlled substances under the 2018 Farm Improvement Act. By law, hemp that contains less than .3% THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) ) is legal.

Since the legalization of hemp, the CBD market, derived from the hemp plant, has exploded into a $ 1 billion industry in the United States, with products touted to help almost all aches and pains, from pain and stress to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. .

Although products containing CBD and less than .3% THC are legal in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration does not certify the ingredients of dietary supplements, and in an unregulated market, such products may contain levels of THC that can cause service members to pop positive on a drug test.

Since troops cannot determine exactly what they get in any CBD product and the Department of Defense is unable to keep virtually a list of approved hemp products, all products must be off limits, Donovan said.

If a service member is found to have used a CBD product, it would be punishable under UCMJ Article 92. Exceptions include use by authorized personnel in the performance of medical duties, those who ingest or use hemp and did not know that what they were consuming contained hemp or CBD, and those who took it “in accordance with legitimate law enforcement duties “according to the memo.

The order also does not apply to those taking FDA-approved medications that contain CBD or synthetic cannabis, including Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros.

The Air Force and Army have had policies since last year that made use of any CBD product punishable under Article 92.

Navy policy restricted ingestible CBD or other hemp products, but allowed Marines and Sailors to use topical products.

But according to a Navy official, additional guidance is being worked on to align the service’s policy with the memo that will apply to all sailors and marines.

Coast Guard policy restricts ingesting hemp oil or products made from hemp seed oil, but does not include foods that contain hemp ingredients.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman said Tuesday that the service’s policy of allowing food containing hemp remains in effect. The service falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Defense and not the Department of Defense.

Lt. Brittany Panetta added that marijuana and other THC products remain prohibited by federal law, and that men and women of the Coast Guard may not participate in any event that celebrates cannabis or enters any establishment that sells or promotes such products. .

“The Coast Guard does not foresee any changes to our clear and firm ban on the use of cannabis-based products by members / employees of the Coast Guard. To protect themselves from potential violations of law and policy, members must Make deliberate decisions about their behaviors and, when in doubt, they are cautious, “said Panetta.

– Patricia Kime can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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