Despite the change in law, the U.S. Navy has issued a reminder to its sailors that applying or consuming CBD in any form is prohibited.
Navy policy has not been affected regardless of the change in law, which means that all products derived from hemp or cannabis, and consuming CBD is still banned – even if cannabis and THC are legal to varying degrees in more than 30 states.
President Donald Trump signed the 2018 farm bill late last year, which included the allowance of hemp cultivation and the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines.
Hemp has extremely low levels of THC, which is the psychoactive compound that makes cannabis a potent drug, but it does contain CBD, a related compound with claimed pain-relieving effects. CBD oil is commonly sold over the counter in ointments and edible formulations.
Commercially available CBD has not been tested by the FDA, and quality varies widely. Some products do not list all ingredients, making it impossible to know how much CBD, THC or other synthetic cannabinoids they may contain. Their consumption could expose the user to some amount of THC, which is easily detected in a urinalysis screening (and could therefore cause a sailor to fail a drug test).
Sailors could be discharged if tested positive
Sailors who test positive for THC without a valid prescription are subject to mandatory administrative processing and could receive an ‘Other Than Honourable’ discharge, which can affect future veteran’s benefits and employment opportunities.
The Navy also reports unlawful drug users to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which could also affect their ability to buy firearms.
From the Navy’s perspective, every servicemember is personally responsible for avoiding exposure to banned substances, even if accidental.
The U.S. Coast Guard recently implemented an even stricter policy related to cannabis usage: Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, a United States Coast Guard admiral, has ordered coastguardsmen not to even visit or associate with any business that primarily deals in cannabis or THC.