Cannabis Testing

Lawmakers Want Cannabis Testing for Military Recruits Stopped

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Marijuana has made huge strides in the cultural acceptance arena over the last two decades. The majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal in either medical or recreational form, and growing numbers of lawmakers agree. So much so that one group is calling for an end to testing military recruits for cannabis consumption.

As things currently stand, all military recruits must undergo drug testing before being officially sworn in as service members. But lawmakers on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel aim to change that. They recently introduced language they want added to the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), language that would prevent the military from continuing to test recruits for cannabis.

An Ironic Situation

The military’s current stand on recruit testing represents an ironic situation on two fronts. First and foremost, delta-9 and delta-8 THC are the two most common controlled substances that show up on positive drug tests among active-duty military personnel. In simple English, this means current service members are using marijuana. To test new recruits for marijuana seems superfluous at this point.

Second, the U.S. military supports psychedelics as potential medical therapies. And in fact, the Department of Defense (DOD) is currently researching psychedelics for their therapeutic effects. If the research comes back positive, it could lead to the DOD approving medicinal psychedelic use.

Practical Effects of the Change

Let us say the House and Senate both approved bills containing language that puts an end to marijuana testing for new military recruits. What would the change mean in practical terms? For starters, it would mean access to a larger pool of potential recruits. Right now, marijuana testing automatically excludes both medical and recreational cannabis users who would rather not discontinue consumption in order to join up.

More importantly, it would pave the way for medical cannabis users capable of otherwise passing the military’s physical for volunteering for service. The potential impact here is pretty significant.

Utahmarijuana.org explains that persistent pain is the most common medical condition for which medical cannabis is sought – both in Utah and nationwide. It is not unreasonable to imagine an individual with pain that is persistent but not debilitating, a person who could pass the military physical without issue.

If that person uses medical cannabis to manage their pain, current rules will prohibit military service. But with the change in place, medical cannabis would no longer be a barrier to military service. As long as the individual is otherwise healthy, he or she could still meet medical requirements.

Not There Quite Yet

Although it is possible that cannabis testing for new military recruits could be gone by the end of this year, there are no guarantees. We aren’t quite there yet. For the time being, there remains quite a bit of disagreement in Congress over how marijuana should be managed.

On the one hand are lawmakers who believe Washington should remove all restrictions on marijuana. On the other are those who continue to support staunch prohibition. Most lawmakers are in the middle. They want to loosen some restrictions but not all. Not being able to reach a consensus could stall the effort to end cannabis testing for military recruits.

Now that the DEA has decided to move ahead with rescheduling marijuana, current congressional efforts could ultimately prove moot. Rescheduling takes us one step closer to full legalization. That day could be a lot closer than most people realize.

If and when marijuana is made fully legal, the whole testing issue goes out the window. But let us not get ahead of ourselves here.

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