The United States may be embracing legalization, but the country’s military and veterans communities are not.
A memo issued by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie this week made that abundantly clear.
“There is no legitimate medical explanation for a marijuana positive test result, other than a verified prescription of certain FDA-approved drugs,” the memo said, as reported by Military Times. “A prescription for medical marijuana is not an acceptable medical explanation for a positive drug test.”
Medical marijuana is legal in more than 30 states, while recreational use is legal in 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia. But Wilkie’s memo emphasized that federal law — which still defines pot as a controlled substance — takes precedence.
“Marijuana is illegal under federal law,” the memo said. “Even though some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, marijuana, marijuana extracts, and tetrahydrocannabinols are illegal for human use under federal law. VA employees are not permitted to use marijuana on or off duty under the provisions of VA’s Drug-Free Workplace Program.”
The memo harkens back to a similar directive issued last summer by the Department of Defense, warning service members to steer clear of hemp-derived products such as cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
“It’s completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time,” Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, said in August.
“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere],” Deuster added. “You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it.”
A similar warning was issued in July by the Department of Navy advising sailors and marines “not to use hemp-derived products.”
“Navy policy has not been affected by the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, and all products derived from hemp or marijuana are still prohibited,” that directive said. “While currently deemed legal for civilians in some states, all hemp and CBD products are strictly prohibited for use by Sailors.”
According to Military Times, Wilkie’s memo this week was described by Veterans Affairs officials as a “self-explanatory, simple reminder.”