CBD Products: Usage & Legality in the Military
For many people, CBD is their bread and butter. It’s the thing that keeps them going as it treats a number of health and wellness issues that include anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, sleep issues, skin problems, and more.
However, for America’s service men and women, CBD is off the table. The Defense Department has made it very clear that CBD is not to be used by any member of the military. Even broad spectrum CBD capsules, CBD oils, and CBD gummies, which contain no THC, are not allowed.
As you might imagine, this creates a challenge for some military members, but also for those who are managing military members. If you’re involved in the military in any way, it’s vital that you understand CBD and the only legal uses of it in the military.
THC Content Creates a Problem
In the United States, it’s legal to sell CBD online across the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace amount isn’t enough to create any psychoactive effects, and millions enjoy the benefits of CBD without losing their mental clarity.
However, many companies sell CBD products that do not accurately label the THC content on the package. Or, they try to hide it with vague claims and promises of significant benefits.
“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Patricia Deuster, director of a laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, told Military.com. She added that there is no research, other than studies done on the impact of CBD on seizures, to support many of the claims made by product manufacturers.
“…Don’t believe what [the companies] are telling you,” Deuster said, pointing out that there’s currently no one to regulate the production of CBD products, and people are getting hurt as a result.
Deuster also told Stars and Stripes last year that military bases all over the United States have reported more than 100 cases of military personnel falling ill due to their use of CBD laced with an illegal THC content. They experienced increased hear rates and hallucinations that nodded to a more serious health condition such as a stroke or heart attack.
In many of those cases, the CBD they took was labeled as a package of gummy bears that could homeopathically help treat anxiety. The label likely didn’t say that it contained THC at the level that it did, since that’s illegal. However, many military personnel are left to suffer the consequences.
Military Heads Struggle to Gain Control
The military heads are working to prevent the use of CBD by demanding more regular drug testing from their constituents. If the THC content in CBD is high enough (like in full-spectrum CBD), it will show up on a drug test.
However, CBD often does not show up in a drug test. Plus, the products are so easily accessible that it’s very difficult to get any kind of control on it.
“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere]. You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it,” said Deuster.
Their current defense against CBD is to court martial any military member who tests positive for THC or who has CBD in their possession. This means that simply misreading the label on a CBD product could mean the end of a career.
CBD Treatment for Seizures Remains Legal
There is one exception to the all-out ban of CBD products in the military, and that’s Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug on the market. It’s designed to treat seizures in severe forms of epilepsy and has shown incredible results in doing so. Other cannabis-based prescription drugs are also allowable in the military.
That being said, there are few roles for those who experience seizures or other medical problems that cannabis can treat, so the likelihood of a service member taking Epidiolex is very slim.
Still, this shows great promise for the cannabis industry. If the U.S. government recognizes this FDA-tested drug as an acceptable form of treatment in the military, it’s only a matter of time before further research and FDA-involvement creates exceptions for other CBD products prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation.
The Military Demands Regulation
It appears that U.S. military professionals do not have a problem with the best CBD oil as a pure substance to help treat ailments like anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Their problem lies in the fact that the CBD industry is simply unregulated and a huge risk.
Every day, new CBD products hit the market. Some are carefully curated and contain exactly the ingredients found on the label. Others are made by sneaky business people trying to cut corners with no regard for the safety of their customers. With no government regulation, they’re simply getting away with it.
“[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,” Deuster said.
Currently, the only way to ensure that you’re getting a good product with CBD is to do extra research yourself. You must check for third-party lab reports that show the potency and ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate. Sometimes, you have to call the lab to verify that the results are real.
If there was greater regulation in the industry, the military and other organizations would not have to be so strict in banning a substance that can help so many people thrive despite serious health conditions.
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House Approves Legislation Allowing CBD Use By Military
The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to a defense spending bill on Monday that would allow members of the military to use CBD. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), from Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, was approved by a vote of 360 to 71 as part of a package of amendments to the House version of the bill.
“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,” the amendment from Gabbard reads.
The amendment is a response to a Department of Defense policy issued in February by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan that directed all branches of the military to enact prohibitions on CBD and other hemp products, despite the crop being legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The memo from Donovan said that CBD use posed “a serious risk to the viability of the military drug testing program,” which is unable to distinguish between THC from hemp and other forms of cannabis.
Because legal hemp and CBD products are permitted to contain up to 0.3% THC, the Department of Defense opted for a complete ban on the products, citing the “risks and adverse effects marijuana use has on the mission for readiness of individual Service members and military units.”
Hemp Industry Calls For Senate Support
If Gabbard’s amendment is included in the final version of the appropriations bill agreed to by the Senate and signed by the president, that ban would be reversed. Jonathan Miller, the general counsel for the trade group U.S. Hemp Roundtable, told High Times that would be welcome news to our women and men in uniform.
“If it becomes law, the amendment will reverse the Department of Defense’s harsh policy that makes the use of hemp products by military service members a crime—a policy that quietly came into effect earlier this year,” Miller said in an email. “The amendment will also invalidate policies by the Army and Air Force that ban the use of hemp products and policies by the Navy and Marine Corps that limit acceptable use to topical products.”
Former service member David Metzler, the CEO of CBD nutraceuticals investment and scaling company CBDCapitalGroup, said that the benefits of cannabidiol are particularly suited for his comrades in arms.
“Every day around 22 veterans commit suicide in America, which is 130% more than the rate of the general population,” he wrote in an email. “As a Navy veteran, I believe that active military members should be able to utilize the many therapeutic benefits of hemp-derived CBD and not have to risk their careers or be penalized to do so.”
“Their only option,” he continued, “is to use opiates and synthetic anti-depression medications to improve their mental and physical health, even though many of these medications have negative side effects for PTSD.”
Metzler also noted that CBD can have a positive impact on the body as well as the mind.
“Many active military members have strenuous daily jobs that put great wear and tear on their bodies and it is our responsibility as an industry to make sure that legislation is passed so that they can use non-addictive, non-opioid anti-inflammatories like CBD to be able to stay healthy and defend our country.”
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