CBD use by Military

In a victory for hemp advocates, the House of Representatives has recently passed an amendment that would allow for the use of hemp extract or CBD use by military personnel. This is in stark contrast to a policy that was issued by the Department of Defense (DOD) back in February 2020, which prohibits any active or reserve service members from ingesting products that contain CBD or hemp extract, regardless of its THC content.

Is Hemp Illegal for Military?

Most recently, the Navy released an additional statement that further extends the ban to include hemp based topical creams and hygiene products for service members.

The amendment is sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and passed through the House with an overwhelming majority of 336-71. It specifies that the “Secretary of Defense may not prohibit, on the basis of a product containing hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp, the possession, use, or consumption of such product by a member of the Armed Forces” as long as the crop meets the federal definition of hemp and that “such possession, use, or consumption is in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law.”

National Defense Authorization Act

The amendment was part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which featured dozens of additional measures, including one that allows for the issue of “reenlistment waivers” to military personnel who admitted to using marijuana or had been convicted of a marijuana-related, misdemeanor offense.

The 2018 Farm Bill

In their statement, the Department of Defense admitted that despite the federal legalization of hemp cultivation in the 2018 Farm Bill, service members were still restricted from having access to non-psychotropic hemp extract products that contain less than .03% THC. The DOD cited concerns regarding the exposure of service members to products that contain even trace amounts of THC, as it could still potentially show up in drug screenings

Another part of the problem stems from the FDA’s reluctance to issue definitive guidelines regarding its use as an additive for ingestible products. However, the FDA has lately issued a draft of guidance to encourage cannabis-related clinical research, which many see as a hopeful sign that they are closer to achieving a conclusive set of CBD and hemp extract policy.

They commented: “A range of stakeholders have expressed interest in development of drugs that contain cannabis and compounds found in cannabis. Recent legislative changes have also opened new opportunities for cannabis clinical research. As that body of research progresses and grows, the FDA is working to support drug development in this area.”

It is critical that the FDA continues to do what we can to support the science needed to develop new drugs from cannabis. The FDA believes the drug approval process represents the best way to ensure that safe and effective new medicines, including any drugs that contain cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, are available to patients in need of appropriate medical therapy.

Military CBD Bill

“The agency is committed to supporting the development of these new drugs through the investigational new drug, drug review and drug approval processes – and one key element of this support involves development of guidance, like this one.”

If the NDAA still includes this amendment when it passes through the Senate, it would certainly be a big step in the right direction for hemp advocacy. The current ban on Naval members using hemp shampoo seems rather excessive, and it is hopeful that further legislation clarifying the use of CBD and hemp extract products will help to alleviate the current conflicting policy.

As scientists continue to research the properties of the many compounds contained within the hemp plant, it is likely that federal policy will continue progressing to accommodate future findings. Until then, the hemp industry will monitor the constantly fluctuating landscape in order to maintain compliance with ever changing regulations.