The Army is granting hundreds of waivers to enlistees who previously smoked marijuana.
We know that marijuana is popular among returning military veterans seeking relief, but now smoking before enlisting in the armed forces seems to be more acceptable than it used to be.
The U.S. Army is relaxing their policy on marijuana use previous to joining in order to drive enlistment numbers up. Current members are still forbidden from using marijuana, but past use before applying for the army may no longer be a roadblock.
The Army authorized over 500 waivers for applicants who smoked marijuana before seeking to enlist in 2017. Last year, the number of waivers granted for past smokers was only 191. Up until three years ago, there no such policy on the books of excusing those who consumed marijuana before their military service.
“Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, head of the Army’s recruiting command, according to the Associated Press.
Marijuana use waivers represent approximately one-quarter of all total misconduct waivers issued by the Army. Snow expects that the number of marijuana waivers could rise even further in the coming years.
The Army has come under scrutiny lately for its recent struggles with maintaining enlistment numbers. About two percent of recruits in 2017 were considered to be “category four.” This means that they scored below 31 out of 99 on their aptitude tests. In 2016, only about half of a percent of recruits fell into this category. The Pentagon only allows up to four percent of new recruits to come from category four applicants.
Category four applicants are not able to request mental health or marijuana use waivers. This is likely why the Army is increasing the marijuana waivers. Soldiers who smoked marijuana as a young adult but score higher on an aptitude test could make for better recruits and opens up the potential pool of candidates the Army can consider.