cbd legal militaryDecember 15, 2021
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
Urinalysis testing is particularly controversial. Observed tests—meaning that someone is watching while the sample is produced—can re-traumatize sexual assault survivors or prove impossible for people suffering from paruresis (the inability to urinate in the presence of others). Urine tests are also fairly easy to cheat, and are often unreliable. They also cannot indicate whether or not someone has a substance use disorder, nor can they measure work performance. Nonetheless, drug test results are often misused to gauge both.
It continues that CBD products are unregulated and unreliable, and therefore have the potential to contain more THC than the consumer might believe. It also states that these products have the potential to cause a THC-positive result on a urinalysis test, and that “since it is not possible to differentiate between THC derived from legal hemp products and illicit marijuana … the use of hemp products could effectively undermine the Department’s ability to identify illicit THC use.”
“It could [cause a THC positive]. In most cases I think it would not, but it could, and you could test positive from taking CBD with that low amount of THC even if you weren’t getting any sort of high or intoxication or THC effect,” said Marino, adding, “It should not mess with a standard urine drug screen.” Other experts commenting for a Vice story agreed that while it was possible THC could accumulate and cause a positive drug test, most standard detection thresholds would prevent this from happening.
“I get why they say it. With a full spectrum product that says ‘CBD only,’ an active-duty member can go and take a bottle thinking it’s only CBD, and then it has THC,” said Joshua Littrel, an Air Force combat veteran and the founder of Veterans for Cannabis, a company that lobbies for the rights of military members to access cannabis while also selling its own line of CBD products.
“[But] for the military to say there’s no way to guarantee that no THC is in it, that’s inaccurate,” he told Filter . “We have a CBD-only product developed specifically for active-duty members and those employees in drug testing positions… it’s made from isolate. When you isolate a molecule, the only thing in the molecule is that molecule itself.”
To give some idea of the scale of this issue, the US military employs around 1.3 million people, while 14 percent of US adults polled say they use CBD products.
“The Department of Defense could … get approved providers,” suggested Littrel as a solution to the issue of the unreliable CBD market. “But they’re not willing to have a conversation. That’s really unfortunate.” He urged those who support the use of CBD to contact their senators and urge them to support Gabbard’s amendment.
A surprising substance has been stirring quiet controversy within the United States military community this year. The use of cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the main active ingredients of cannabis, widely touted for offering a host of potential medical benefits without the “high” of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — is being contested, as legislators work to overturn a ban on CBD use by active-duty military personnel.
For the Department of Defense, however, the issue seems to be less about CBD’s potential efficacy or inefficacy, and more about whether or not a member’s use of a CBD product could interfere with the department’s ability to gauge and monitor drug use.
“In the military, the biggest thing is, when you get an injury, it’s getting back in the fight—how quickly can you get back on your feet, get back in the fight, and take retaliation back on the enemy?” said Littrel. “If CBD can help our active-duty members return to service quicker, why in the world do we not allow that?”
The DoD states that these products have the potential to cause a THC-positive result on a urinalysis test.
“If somebody pissed hot or whatever, they would get nonjudicial punishment … and we would have a conversation with their commander as to how to move forward. Something like pot, I don’t think anybody would have gotten kicked out,” Curci recalled, cautioning that the culture and responses could have changed since he left the military.
There is some truth to the Department’s statement. Besides the prescription pharmaceutical Epidiolex, approved to treat a severe seizure disorder, CBD products are generally not FDA-regulated. In fact, it is illegal to even market them as a supplement, a category that has faced criticism for its already-lax regulatory standards.
In addition to the general DoD ban, several branches of the military have issued their own rules governing the use of CBD products. This includes directives from the Navy that specifically target topical hemp products like shampoo, lotion and lip balm.
Many experts sound caution, however. “The research [on the health benefits of CBD] is kind of lacking. There’s not a lot of good evidence for different conditions, but that’s not saying it doesn’t do anything,” Ryan Marino, an emergency medicine physician and toxicologist practicing in Ohio, told Filter. “The human body has CBD receptors within the nervous system, so it totally makes sense that it does something. I think high doses is where we will see effects … A few years from now, there will probably be more evidence saying CBD does things for other conditions.”
The DoD memo opens with the statement that “Substance misuse by Service members is a safety and readiness issue, and the Department must remain vigilant in addressing emerging threats, including those that come from new products and sources.”
In late July, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the Secretary of Defense from issuing a blanket ban on the use of CBD in the military. Should this provision survive the next iteration of the bill and pass the Senate, it would work to countermand a policy enacted by the Department of Defense (DoD) in February, which prohibits the use of any hemp products by active and reserve military members.
Littrel also noted a host of health benefits he believes CBD offers, including the reduction of inflammation and anxiety, which could be particularly useful to active-duty military members and veterans. While CBD has only been approved for medical use in the US for certain seizure disorders, people who use and sell the products report health benefits ranging from pain relief to reducing anxiety and depression, treating opioid addiction , and even stopping the spread of cancerous tumors .
DoD’s February memo directed that criminal provisions for use of hemp products be added to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It specifically notes that this includes CBD.
“This [CBD ban] seems very misguided,” added Marino. “If they really have [drug testing and problematic drug use] concerns, they should be working on these concerns instead of preventing military members and US service members from having the shampoo they want or taking a CBD gummy.”
Mark Curci served in the National Guard until 2004, when he left at the rank of sergeant. He worked in security and administration, which included paperwork on service member reprimands. “If somebody had been busted for marijuana, I would have been the one to bust them,” he told Filter .
“First of all, I don’t know why the military is drug testing people all the time; drug tests are terrible tests to begin with,” said Marino.
“First of all, I don’t know why the military is drug testing people all the time; drug tests are terrible tests to begin with.”
“These people are risking their lives for us and they can’t use hemp shampoo.”
While research is still relatively sparse, there are a growing number of studies backing many of these claims. Littrel specifically mentioned research out of Israel that linked CBD with faster recovery from traumatic brain injuries in mice.
Curci now has a healthy relationship with marijuana, noting that since leaving the National Guard, he has experienced “positive effects of CBD for psychiatric issues and anxiety issues.”
So what happens if a member of the military gets caught with the wrong shampoo? While the consequences of being caught using illicit substances, including marijuana, can vary for military personnel and can include court martial or service discharge, the use of CBD specifically violates Article 92 of the UCMJ, which means disobeying an order. The maximum punishment under Article 92 is dishonorable discharge and two years of confinement.
These products have been part of the sweeping Defense Department regulations regarding any product related to cannabinoids. Recently, more than 76 people in a New Haven, Connecticut, park overdosed with severe side effects from a “bad batch” of synthetic marijuana. This became a mass casualty event that has nothing to do with hemp, CBD or marijuana for that matter, as it was laced with an opioid.
Medical studies/reports on CBD oil Anti-inflammatory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
He grew with the business and created methods to distribute and ingest these products, using edibles, creams, oils, vapes and more. This type of the cannabis business was mainly for medical and recreational marijuana users. THC was the product people were seeking at that time in the industry; however, he noticed there are big benefits in non-THC cannabis in products from the hemp plant, such as CBD oil and hemp seed oil.
Veteran In the business.
The legal issues and DoD stances.
In this article, we dig into the differences between the two and benefits being tested right now and answer the biggest question: Are these considered marijuana and illegal to use? Here are some things you need to know about CBD, hemp and THC:
Are you aware of the potential healing and recovery properties of cannabidiol, also known as CBD? How about hemp oil? What is the military stance on using such products even if they contain no THC (the psychoactive drug)?
Because of its placement within the central nervous system, it has impact within the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These are our “fight-or-flight” or “rest-and-digest” states, respectively, connecting our hormonal responses to stress in life-or-death situations and our recovery from those moments as well.
Hemp oil can be used in cooking, shampoos and soaps, and because of the high Vitamin E content, it is an antioxidant that can help the body fight off the catabolic effects of stress. Unlike CBD oil, hemp oil has a nutritional value. It can be consumed in capsule form as well.
You may have heard about products like Spice or K2, which is a synthetic cannabinoid made from chemicals, not from the cannabis or hemp plant, whereas CBD oil is organic, naturally occurring and extracted using natural methods. These chemicals sprayed over such things as tobacco have caused severe side effects, even deaths, and can be two to 100 times stronger than THC.
The endocannabinoid system.
The companies selling CBD oil are permitted to use industrial hemp. Therefore, it is not in contradiction of the Controlled Substances Act, making CBD oil legal and not a substance the Drug Enforcement Administration would consider illicit, because it contains only trace amounts of THC. The hemp growers have to be careful and are highly regulated not to allow the THC values to increase within their substances they sell. The CBD that is produced must have zero THC, which makes it not testable on any drug test.
Hemp oil contains phytocannabinoids, but it is not marijuana. Hemp contains more than 80 phytocannabinoids, including CBD. It can be made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats like Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as Vitamin E.
Henderson created a new company, Extract Labs, that focuses on the “non-alcoholic beer” version of the same products above. The CBD oil products have the same types of ingestion models as above, but with none of the psychoactive effects of the THC type of cannabis.
CBD is one of many naturally occurring cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. Yes, this is a product of the same plant family of marijuana and hemp. Cannabis does not mean marijuana. Cannabis is the genus name of the plant family into which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall.
However, the Agricultural Act of 2014 allows state agricultural businesses, colleges and universities to obtain permits to extract CBD from industrial hemp. In states where marijuana is legal and the transport across state lines is legal for industrial hemp, the flow of CBD oil or industrial hemp also is considered legal.
Natural CBD oil and hemp oil do not contain enough THC to be illegal (or get you high). It is negligible at best, but must be under .3% to be used on the market as hemp or CBD oil. THC is the narcotic in marijuana that give you the “high” (psychoactive effect). THC is illegal within the federal government and military, but legal in some states.
What was the journey from the Army to the legal marijuana business? Henderson was an airborne paratrooper for four years, then decided to use his GI Bill to go to college. After a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree along the way, he found a path to Colorado, where he started working for a new and legal marijuana company.
Why are cannabinoids like CBD and hemp important? Our body has millions of cannabinoid receptors that are part of the brain, skin and central nervous system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD interacts with the body’s ECS, and our body naturally produces cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids.
If you are considering going into this business, you do not necessarily need to move to one of the several states where medical and recreational marijuana are legal. To grow, sell and distribute hemp products, it is easier to live in a state where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, but some states with agricultural laws allow for hemp to be grown.
Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout our body from our biggest organ — the skin to the brain, digestive tract and throughout the peripheral nervous system. The main purpose of the ECS is to protect the nerve fibers themselves, the immune system and helping to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which impact appetite, sleep, mood, stress and pain.
“Consider this the health and wellness side of the business,” Henderson said. “We have customers who use these products for depression, sleep assistance, PTSD, anxiety, high blood pressure, cancer and pain relief, even severe pain relief.”
Other veterans in the CBD business.
However, the non-psychoactive CBD has been gaining popularity throughout the media and scientific community (see links to studies below) with noticeable recovery benefits and without the illegal substances and carcinogens of some forms of marijuana. CDB oil has been shown to help cancer patients and is used to treat many ailments, such as epilepsy, and psychological problems. It has anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
Do your research on the branch of service and its official stance on hemp or CBD (with no THC). The stances tend to ebb and flow at the speed of politics and military bureaucracy.
According to the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana includes any resin from any part of the cannabis plant. This would include CBD and hemp oil.
I recently asked Army veteran Craig Henderson of Extract Labs about his journey from the military to Colorado and into the world of legal cannabis products. Here are some of those questions and answers: