Cannabis use may no longer disqualify prospective applicants from joining the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force as long as they stop consuming it once in the service.
Recruits who otherwise qualified to serve but tested positive for THC at Military Entrance Processing Stations might be granted a waiver, Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, commander of Air Force Recruiting Service told Air Force Times in an interview published earlier this week.
He emphasized that applicants who test positive for THC while at MEPS are “permanently” prohibited from entering the Air Force or Space Force. However, with more states legalizing marijuana, the number of THC-positive applicants is rising.
“We have to be realistic today,” Thomas continued. “We need to exercise common sense.”
While it’s unclear when this policy will be finalized, other U.S. military service branches have taken similar steps. Last year, the Navy undertook a pilot program for a period of two years, during which applicants who test positive for marijuana or THC at MEPS will be able to move on to boot camp after a three-month waiting period. The Marine Corps has a slightly different approach to THC-positive recruits, allowing them to return to MEPS after 45 days.
Latest Legislative Efforts
Meanwhile, in July 2020 the House of Representatives approved a measure permitting the use of hemp products and its derivatives for military service members.
Recently, two amendments to a must-pass defense spending bill concerning marijuana-related issues in the U.S. military were also green-lighted by the members of the same chamber.
Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), the first proposal was centered on cannabis sentencing standards under the military code. It sought a Military Justice Review Panel “develop recommendations specifying appropriate sentencing ranges for offenses involving the use and possession of marijuana.”
The other proposal from Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) seeks a Defense Department-led study on the efficiency of cannabis for certain conditions as compared to opioids.
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