CBD Product Use a Crime Punishable under Military Code, Says Pentagon

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WASHINGTON, D.C.The Pentagon has moved to make use of CBD products a criminal offense for troops across all branches of the U.S. military, according to reports from military news websites.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan issued a memo dated February 26, which effectively changes previous policy and makes any violations punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

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In the memo, Donovan stated: “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.”

The memo was brought to media attention recently when the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which issues advisories to military members regarding supplement use (as well as other product ingredients), tweeted the information to service members and followers.

Most military troops had been restricted from use of CBD products; CBD (cannabidiol) derived from hemp (a variety of cannabis) remains a federally prohibited substance. The Department of Defense last year warned against use of CBD products, which might cause a positive result for cannabis during a drug test.

Hemp, which was legalized for cultivation in the U.S. by the Farm Act of 2018, is a strain of cannabis that is bred to produce only trace amounts of psychoactive plant compound THC. Oil extracted from hemp must contain less than 0.3mg THC, according to federal policy, in order to be considered allowable for industrial use. Most CBD products are infused with oil derived from hemp plants.

Until Donovan’s memo, service branches had separate policies regarding CBD use. Army and Air Force members were prohibited from using CBD products, while Navy and Marine troops had been allowed to use CBD topical products, including lotions, balms, and hair products.

Donovan said an overall policy was required to “protect the integrity of the drug testing program.”

“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,” he said.

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