In a recent development, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida has proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that could put an end to cannabis testing for military members, as reported by Politico.
This proposed amendment aims to relax the existing rules surrounding cannabis testing within the military, taking into consideration the increasing trend of marijuana legalization across the United States. With the growing number of recruits seeking the benefits of cannabis, whether for recreational or medical purposes, particularly in states where it is legal, this proposal reflects the shifting attitudes towards cannabis use.
Cannabis Testing and the Changing Landscape
According to The New York Times, there has been a significant increase in positive cannabis tests among military recruits in 2022 compared to 2020. This rise can be attributed to the growing acceptance and legalization of cannabis in various states.
At present, medical marijuana is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C., while adult-use cannabis is legal in 22 states and D.C. This changing landscape has prompted Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, to sponsor an amendment allowing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis in legal states.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved this amendment, which will go into effect as part of the 2024 Fiscal Year legislation funding the VA. A similar bipartisan approach to cannabis reform can be seen in the House, with Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and Florida Republican Representative Brian Mast leading the way as co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
Evolving Cannabis Policies
Representative Gaetz of Florida has proposed an amendment that aligns with the shifting federal stance on cannabis use.
Over the past five years, the military has provided a “grace period” to approximately 3,400 recruits who failed their initial drug test on the first day. The Army has waived over 3,300 recruits who failed a drug test or disclosed past drug use between 2018 and 2022.
While the Army has traditionally been considered more lenient compared to other branches, the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps have also implemented measures that allow recruits a second chance to take a drug test after 90 days.
It is worth noting that drug tests primarily focus on detecting cannabis use, as it can be detected in urine for a longer duration compared to substances like cocaine or heroin.
A Surprising Ally
Despite his association with the far-right, Representative Gaetz’s support for ending cannabis testing in the military comes as a surprise. Gaetz has expressed pro-cannabis views, emphasizing that the federal government has misrepresented the medical benefits of marijuana to the American people for years.
He believes that excluding individuals with prior cannabis use from enlisting in the armed forces could hinder recruitment and retention efforts. Gaetz advocates for embracing individuals who choose to serve the country, regardless of their past cannabis use.
Military Veterans and Cannabis Use
While veterans are obviously no longer on duty, this miliary policy change could be rooted in cannabis treatment studies for military PTSD. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) performed a recent study in 2020. MAPS compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used prescribed cannabis with other PTSD sufferers who do not use cannabis to treat symptoms.
Over the course of a year, the study found that cannabis users reported a decrease in the severity of their PTSD symptoms. They also were more than 2.5 times more likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as those who did not use cannabis. It was also discovered that those with high PTSD scores were more likely to use cannabis to improve sleep.
“One of the biggest takeaways from this study is that veterans with PTSD can use cannabis at self-managed doses, at least in the short term, and not experience a plethora of side effects or a worsening of symptoms,” said Mallory Lofl in, a co-author of the paper.
If You Need Some Help
First and foremost, if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTSD or other mental health issues that endangers the safety of anyone, be sure to tap into the necessary resources such as hotlines, support groups, and medical supervision.
If your symptoms are more along the lines of preventing you from achieving a calm state or getting a full night’s rest, perhaps we can help. Our tinctures, vape cartridges, and capsules are discreet and easy to use if you are ever in need. Many of our customers have reported elevated mood, a state of calm, and better sleep without the strong scent of cannabis.
Representative Matt Gaetz’s proposed amendment aims to halt cannabis testing for military members, with the intention of supporting the armed forces during a challenging recruitment and retention crisis. The increasing bipartisan support for cannabis reform is shaping the evolving landscape of marijuana legalization across the United States and influencing attitudes towards cannabis use in the military.
As discussions continue and amendments are considered, the future of cannabis testing in the military may undergo significant changes. It is essential to closely monitor the progress of this proposal and its potential implications for military members.