According to a statement released early July, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), was added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow heads of military branches to issue reenlistment waivers for those who admit to using marijuana, or were convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense, once.

According to a memo recently made public, the Pentagon had quietly moved to make CBD use a punishable offence for all military troops. However, in a 336 to 71 vote, The House of Representatives approved the NDAA amendments brought on by Gabbard stating, “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.”

Matthew Donovan, acting Undersecretary for the department claims that the Department of Defense (DOD) banned hemp and CBD products in all forms in February to “protect the integrity of the drug testing program.” The memo released by the DOD acknowledges that hemp was in fact legalized, but it said the risk of exposure to products potentially containing excess THC is too great.

Donovan sought to avoid confusion and “spare the U.S. military the risks and adverse effects marijuana use has on the mission readiness of individual service members and military units.” Since the Farm Bill ruling in 2018, which legalized hemp as any cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC, and removed hemp from its list of controlled substances, this seemed to be a bit of an overreach on the DOD’s behalf.

Gabbard also filed a bill last year aimed at modernizing the hemp industry, including encouraging federal research into a wide-range of potential applications for the crop. The “Hemp for Victory Act,” would mandate studies into everything from the use of hemp food products for public school lunches, to the potential therapeutic value of the crop’s extracts for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and even to its ability to clear contaminants from nuclear sites.

If the NDAA is signed into law with Gabbard’s amendment included, it would supersede defense department rules. However, it is currently unknown if these marijuana policies will find approval in the Senate.

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