Weed by any other name is still illegal

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jonathan Ophardt
  • 436th Airlift Wing, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate

From 1996 to today, 30 states have legalized medical marijuana, as well as Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico, according to NCSL.org. Of those 30 states, 10 have passed legislation legalizing adult use. Although this trend matches a 2018 Pew Research Center survey suggesting that six out of 10 Americans support marijuana legalization, the United States military still maintains a zero tolerance policy for marijuana use, regardless of form.

This policy may seem straight forward - ‘just don’t smoke weed’ - It’s the caveat, ‘regardless of form,’ where the issue of pot gets sticky.
Illegal marijuana use is typically associated with the consumption or smoking of dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from marijuana plants, but there’s more to it than that. Illegal forms of marijuana also include all cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol derivatives, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-infused products. CBD products are increasingly sold as dietary supplements, marketed as a “vape oil,” and are being added to various commercially available food and drink items, including beer and candy.

Despite what’s on the label or what the retailer says, any product that contains CBD oil remains a controlled substance under federal law, and potentially has detectable amounts of THC.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a prescription drug called Epidolex, which is a cannabis-based epilepsy treatment similar to CBD. Epidolex is still a controlled substance under federal law, requiring that it be dispensed only to those needing it for medical purposes, and only with a prescription.
As the attitudes, trends and legislations change regarding marijuana, so do the forms by which it can be consumed. Regardless of a state’s law “legalizing” recreational use of marijuana, and regardless of whether a product claims to be THC-free, military members are forbidden from knowingly purchasing, possessing, and consuming products that contain marijuana in any form.

For more information, visit https://www.opss.org/faqs/cannabidiol-are-products-cbd-legal or https://www.opss.org/docs/usmc-public-safety-advisory-cannabidiol-and-%E2%80%9Cvaping%E2%80%9D.