Federal law prohibits American servicemembers from consuming cannabis. A 2018 notice declares that although dozens of states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, federal law restricts military members from using cannabis, CBD (cannabidiol), any cannabinoid derivatives and THC-infused products. The notice also states that the ingestion of hemp and hemp-seed derivatives was prohibited because they could contain trace amounts of THC.
This is despite the fact that studies have shown cannabis can be efficient in alleviating conditions such as, depression, chronic pain, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are common among military veterans.
A key House panel is now requesting the military to reconsider cannabis penalties for soldiers. The House Armed Service Committee recently approved two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that are associated with cannabis-related issues in the military. The first amendment by Rep. Anthony Brown would compel the Military Justice Review panel to develop new recommendations to specify suitable penalties for marijuana-related offenses.
This would include a comparison between the “sentencing standards” for marijuana-related offenses and similar offenses, such as misuse of alcohol. The panel would also need to account for the burden current cannabis sentencing standards place on the military justice system. The panel would have 180 days to issue a report with cannabis sentencing recommendations to the House and Armed Services Committee after the measure is enacted.
Speaking at a press release, Brown said that the military justice system needs to adjust and evolve with the times as states increasingly adopt cannabis reform. He states that while his amendment won’t change current federal law, it will require that the armed forces review its cannabis policies and provide recommendations for possible reform.
The second amendment, introduced by Rep. Seth Moulton, would require that the Department of Defense (DOD) sponsor a study into marijuana’s efficacy against certain conditions compared to opioids. The DOD prohibited all active and reserve military members from consuming hemp products back in 2019 and reiterated through notices in 2020 that CBD was also prohibited.
As per Moulton’s amendment, the secretary of defense would be required to lead a study on the efficacy of medical cannabis as an opioid alternative for Armed Forces veterans. The study would involve veterans diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, PTSD or any condition that causes severe pain. They should have been prescribed pharmaceutical medications to address their conditions in the past.
The secretary of defense would also have to conduct regular assessments of the study subjects and issue reports to congressional defense committees one year and three years after the study. These reports would cover any benefits and risks associated with using medical cannabis as an opioid alternative and provide any pertinent recommendations.
It is crucial that the military revisits its marijuana policies. it is no longer uncommon to find people using the products from duly licensed companies such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTC: NUGS) for medical or recreational reasons.
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