Can I Take CBD While in the Military? – 2022 Policy Breakdown

Military member in uniform saluting the American flag.

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Members of the military are among those who perhaps stand to benefit from CBD the most, but official policy may get in the way, or worse, get you into trouble.

Current military policy in the U.S. prohibits the use of CBD products of any kind, even those that have no THC in them. The military goes as far as to extend this ban to hemp products in general to ensure members can participate in drug testing and aren’t exposed to potentially harmful substances.

Policies surrounding these issues are constantly changing, so it’s always a good idea to keep tabs on those that are specific to the area of the military you’re concerned about. Understanding where we are now and why can shed some light on what the future may look like, though, and what your options are.

Are Military Members Allowed to Use CBD Products?

As of 2022, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Department of Defense are prohibited from using CBD products, even those that are derived from legally-grown hemp. 

Though CBD is not a controlled or illegal substance, it is not recognized as an official, FDA-approved medication or supplement. 

In the eyes of the military, CBD and hemp are derivatives of cannabis, which active members are not allowed to use under any circumstances.

According to official policy from the U.S. Military, soldiers are prohibited from using not just hemp, but any form of it (most notably hemp rich in CBD) “for the purpose of inducing excitement, intoxication, or stupefaction of the central nervous system.”

Can Military Members Use CBD Topicals?

Though the cannabinoids in topical CBD products, like creams, lotions, and even CBD oil don’t enter the bloodstream, CBD topicals are still prohibited for active members of the military. 

These products fall under the umbrella of “hemp and products derived from it” as defined by the military’s policies, meaning they aren’t exempt from the rules.

Can Military Members Use Hemp Lotion?

Unfortunately, current policy states that hemp, oils derived from it, and products created using hemp are off the table for military members, even those that are formulated without any CBD in them.

Hemp lotions are often created using hemp seed oil, hemp extract, or a similar ingredient, which makes them problematic for those in the service. 

An excerpt from official Air Force policy, for instance, states that ”the knowing use of hemp products designed to penetrate the skin, including but not limited to transdermal patches, is prohibited.”

Will CBD Show on a Military Drug Test?

Though CBD itself won’t show up on a military drug test, the trace amounts of THC present in CBD products can make you fail one. 

And, because the military does not allow for the use of hemp or CBD products, they are not considered to be legitimate reasons for a positive THC value on a test.

CBD won’t show up on a drug test simply because drug tests are not looking for it. Even though it’s technically prohibited in the military, CBD is not a controlled substance and is not a part of standard drug testing, even in this scenario.

What Kind of Drug Test Does the Military Use?

The U.S. military typically relies on 5-panel or 10-panel urinalysis testing to screen its active members. This testing usually occurs once a year.

A 5-panel drug test is the type of test you can expect to encounter in most general situations. These tests screen for the most commonly abused illicit substances, including THC (marijuana), cocaine, amphetamines (ex. Adderall, methamphetamine), opiates, and PCP. 

Also common are 10-panel drug tests, which look for the substances listed above as well as several others, including a broader range of commonly abused prescription medications, like benzodiazepines.

Recent expansions and changes made to drug testing panels used within the military mean that in many cases, more extensive (10-panel or similar) drug tests are likely to be used. 

According to military policy changes, the following drugs may be screened for during routine testing:

  1. THC (marijuana)
  2. Cocaine
  3. Amphetamines
  4. MDEA
  5. MDA
  6. Heroin
  7. Opiates
  8. Benzodiazepines 
  9. Oxycodone/oxymorphone
  10. PCP

Is CBD Illegal on Military Bases?

It’s safe to assume that CBD is prohibited on most military bases, at least for active members. It’s also possible for CBD to be prohibited for family members and other residents of military bases, though; it’s best to check with the regulations that apply to your base to know for sure.

Because the military takes such a firm stance against CBD use in general, largely because CBD is still considered to be a derivative of cannabis, a controlled substance, many bases don’t allow its use or possession. 

Even things like CBD topicals or hemp oils can prove to be problematic. 

When in doubt, it never hurts to consult officials from your local base for clarification. A lack of precedent may mean that it’s challenging to know for sure what your options are otherwise.

What Happens if Military Members are Caught Using CBD?

Active military members who are caught using CBD may be subject to disciplinary action as outlined by official policy. The exact consequences that follow will likely depend on the scenario and the individual in question.

It’s also possible to fall into legal trouble or face civil sanctions if caught.

In the eyes of the military, things like CBD are just as prohibited as other illicit substances. A member with no prior offenses is far more likely to leave the situation with little consequences than one who has faced disciplinary action in the past.

Man in his 30's holding a dropper full of CBD and dripping it into his mouth.

When Will CBD Be Legal for Military Members?

It’s tough to say when CBD will be an option for active military members. It seems that, based on the military’s current opinion of CBD (a derivative of a controlled substance), CBD will likely continue to be prohibited until federal legislation surrounding the use of marijuana changes. 

One large problem that currently makes this scenario the most likely is the fact that CBD products, even those made from hemp flower, can contain trace amounts of THC.

These trace amounts are insignificant on their own, but over long periods of time and with extended use of CBD products, they can build up in the body. 

This build-up can lead to a false positive on a drug test. Even if you’ve never used marijuana in your life, using CBD products may lead you to fail. 

To make things worse, the military does not consider CBD or its products to be a legitimate reason to fail a drug test; a positive result for THC is the same regardless.

Because CBD products have the potential to complicate the drug testing process, which is a routine and important part of maintaining safety in the eyes of the military, they will likely prove to be problematic. 

If THC loses its status as a controlled substance, this reality may or may not change. 

It’s impossible to say for sure at this time, but increasing interest in and research about CBD, THC, and cannabis in general gives us some hope that things may be headed in the right direction.

CBD While in the Military: Key Takeaways

Unfortunately, CBD is not currently a realistic option for those who are actively serving in the military, at least in the United States. 

Though CBD is legal to use and is not a controlled substance, it’s still so closely intertwined with marijuana and the legal issues that surround it that it can cause some problems.

Influencing drug test results is one of the biggest obstacles CBD poses to the military, but it’s certainly not the only one. 

A lack of regulation and research related to the safety and quality of these products means they come with other risks that the military is motivated to avoid.

The military’s stance on CBD is so strict, in fact, that even hemp oils and similar products are prohibited. 

There can be real, serious consequences for failing to abide by these rules, too. So, if you’re an active member of the military, it’s best to stay away from CBD, at least for the time being. 

Members who are not actively serving may choose to take advantage of CBD, though. CBD products are great at managing pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other chronic health symptoms that tend to be common among veterans. 

Our directory offers a comprehensive list of product options that can help with these concerns and more. Even if CBD isn’t an option for you now, it certainly can be in the future.

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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