Don’t bring your dog’s CBD-infused shampoo on federal military bases, the U.S. Air Force reminded personnel in a recent blog post.
While hemp and its derivatives are federally legal—and a growing number of states have regulated marijuana markets—a Massachusetts base of the military branch emphasized that possessing or using cannabis products can result in disciplinary action.
“Hemp, CBD and traces of THC can be found in a number of products like shampoos, lotions, and lip balms that you can buy in the open market, but you can’t bring them onto the installation,” Tech. Sgt. Kyle Majorana said. “Even if it’s for your pet, it’s still illegal.”
Hemp, CBD & traces of THC can be found in a number of products like shampoos, lotions, & lip balms that you can buy in the open market, but you can’t bring them onto a federal installation. Even if it’s for your pet, it’s still illegal. #knowtheruleshttps://t.co/CqJWXR7XD7
— U.S. Air Force Materiel Command ✈️ (@HQ_AFMC) May 8, 2021
He stressed that the “line between state and federal laws begins and ends at our gates.”
While this notice specifically targeted one Air Force base, the message is consistent with past updates from the military division, which has gone out of its way to make its cannabis policy clear.
About one year after hemp was federally legalized, the Air Force sent out a notice that similarly warned against using CBD products that are commonly found on the market. The reason for the blanket ban, it said, is because those products may have trace amounts of THC that could show up in a drug test.
The Air Force said the previous year that it wants its members to be extra careful around “grandma’s miracle sticky buns” that might contain marijuana.
To that end, this new blog post is just the latest example of the military branch underscoring its enforcement priorities.
For military members, drug use and possession will have adverse career implications and administrative actions like loss of rank and pay,” Maj. Steven Vallarelli said. “If the case warrants more severe action, members could be subject to a court-martial, possibly resulting in a federal conviction.”
The policy also applies to non-members, the post says. There could be “security clearance implications” for civilian employees and contractors convicted of possessing marijuana, for example. And visitors at federal installations who bring cannabis could also be penalized.
“Our intent is always to protect, educate and inform the base community while maintaining good order and discipline,” Maj. Shane Watts said.
Several military divisions have taken steps to advise members about marijuana prohibition policies in recent years.
In 2019, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced a policy barring all active and reserve service members from using hemp products, including CBD.
The Navy issued an initial notice in 2018 informing ranks that they’re barred from using CBD and hemp products no matter their legality. Then in 2020 it released an update explaining why it enacted the rule change.
DOD more broadly reaffirmed that CBD is off limits to service members, regardless of the federal legalization of hemp and its derivatives, in earlier notices published last year.
The Coast Guard said that sailors can’t use marijuana or visit state-legal dispensaries.
And NASA, which is not part of the military, warned that CBD products could contain unauthorized THC concentrations that could cost employees their jobs if they fail a drug test.
A factor that could have influenced these policy updates is that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released guidance to federal agency drug program coordinators in 2019 that outlined concerns about THC turning up in CBD products and causing failed drug tests. The agency issued an updated warning late last year after several more states voted to legalize marijuana.
As military institutions continue to broadly ban cannabis for active service members, congressional lawmakers are pushing for marijuana reform when it comes to those who have served in the past.
A bipartisan bill reintroduced last month would federally legalize medical marijuana for military veterans, for example.
Lawmakers have also recently filed several pieces of legislation that would promote research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis for veterans.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.