When the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its derivatives, no one knew just how big cannabidiol (“CBD”) would get. Flush with medical properties, CBD has quickly become a go-to compound for people seeking a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. However, despite being federally legalized, several military branches have in the past few months issued statements stating that service members were not permitted to use CBD products. In response, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a military veteran, and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate sponsored an amendment that would allow military service members to use products containing hemp and its derivatives.
Approved by the House of Representatives on Monday, the amendment stipulates 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 a product by a member of the Armed Forces.” This is only applicable as long as the crop meets the federal definition of hemp (less than 0.3% THC) and “such possession, use, or consumption is in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and Local law.”
Gabbard’s amendment will address notices from several military branches instructing their service members to abstain from using CBD. For instance, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced a policy barring all active service members from using hemp products, including CBD, in February. The DOD acknowledged that while hemp was legal, the risk of exposure to excess THC was too great.
The Air Force and the Navy as well have informed their members that they are barred from using hemp-derived CBD, no matter its legality. Although NASA isn’t part of the military, it has also warned its employees that CBD products could contain excess levels of THC that could cost them their job if they fail a drug test. This aversion to CBD products can be traced back to a July 24 government wide-memo asking agencies to update their employees about CBD.
The notice by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) stated that although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD, “the Food and Drug Administration does not certify levels of THC in the products. The agency stated that due to the lack of regulatory oversight from the FDA, “federal workers and those with security clearances who test positive for THC metabolites will be penalized, regardless of whether they thought they were taking CBD alone.”
Rep. Gabbard’s amendment was passed in an en bloc passage including dozens of other non-cannabis amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), and it has been attached to the House version of the NDAA.
Cannabis sector players like Pure Extracts Corp. are probably waiting to see the fate of the amendment once it gets to the floor of the U.S. Senate.
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