By Olivia Rigby
With the increasing popularity and normalization of marijuana throughout the United States, many may be wondering if the Armed Forces will change their policies on military discharge for drug use. During the military entrance physical exam, a THC military drug test is conducted. The Air Force recently announced that they’ll be offering second chances to those who tested positive for THC in the recruitment process. So what does this mean for the future of the military and its policy on drug use?

Past Rules for Military Discharge for Drug Use

Historically, drug use while in the military has been completely intolerable. The maximum consequences of failing a drug test in the military have resulted in a dishonorable discharge. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, active-duty military members can face not only a dishonorable discharge but also criminal prosecution in some cases for a positive drug test. However, some of these policies are changing.

Policy Changes on Veteran Marijuana Use Pave the Way for Active Duty

The VA recently changed their policy on marijuana usage: Veterans will no longer be denied benefits if they’ve been found to have the drug in their system or admitted to using it. Veterans are also being encouraged to share their marijuana usage with their VA clinicians, but VA doctors cannot prescribe a medical marijuana card to their patients. These changes for Veterans are already helping pave the way to marijuana acceptance in potential recruits by destigmatizing its use in the military community, but there’s still a ways to go.

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Military Branch Policy Changes

The Air Force and Space Force recently announced a pilot program where they’ll be providing second chances to those who tested positive for THC during their entrance physical exam. Previously, those who tested positive for THC were permanently banned from entry into the Space Force or Air Force. This pilot program lets applicants who previously failed, but have scored a 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, get a waiver to retest 90 days after their initial test. The Air Force and Space Force adopted this pilot program because they were struggling to meet their military recruiting goals. The Air Force isn’t the first to do this, however. The Navy started a similar pilot program in April 2021. However, once a recruit is officially in the military, drug use has to stop.

More Potential Military Policy Changes

In 2019, the Department of Defense reported that the military drug test THC cutoff was 15 ng/mL. Recently, there’s been a push to change the punishments for possession and/or usage of marijuana. This change was suggested in part because of the legalization of marijuana in nearly every state and to ensure that equal justice was given to all military members, regardless of race or gender. This policy change suggests that instead of a dishonorable discharge when found using or in possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis, military members will receive a punishment no greater than a “drunk on duty” punishment. The punishments for being drunk on duty or wrongful use of alcohol are significantly less than the maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge for drug usage. If this policy change is accepted and implemented, it could change the lives of many military service members.

What Marijuana Products Show Up on a Drug Test?

With the increasing legalization of marijuana, several other marijuana-type products have been appearing. Things like Delta-8,10,12, etc. have become incredibly popular, as well as things like CBD gummies, cigarettes, oils, and more. So do these show up on drug tests? The answer is yes. Delta-8 and its other numerical siblings will show up on a drug test, as well as CBD. Even though many CBD product manufacturers try to limit the amount of THC in their products, it’s not guaranteed that CBD products are THC free. Because of this, it is best to stay away from all marijuana-derived products if you’re in the military or thinking about joining. Military discharge for drug use may seem like an outdated thing to many people because of the legalization and popularization of marijuana throughout the states. Because of this, there have been many conversations surrounding drug usage for military members and potential military members. Marijuana usage has its pros and cons, and it needs to be carefully considered by all, especially current members and potential members of the military. But now, at least military discharge for drug use before you even sign up won’t be such a concern.

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