The Navy released a memo clarifying that sailors are prohibited from possessing or using hemp-based products—including CBD. The Navy emphasized that it will enforce a zero tolerance policy and said even with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Navy policy hasn’t been affected. The Navy memo follows an order issued late last month by the U.S. Coast Guard making cannabis dispensaries illegal for active members.
“Sailors and Marines are prohibited from knowingly using products made or derived from hemp, including CBD, regardless of the products’ THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold and used under the law applicable to civilians,” the release states.
The memo indicates that part of the reasoning is because CBD products generally aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and may contain THC. Sailors with a valid prescription for the few FDA-approved CBD products are exempt from the memo. Topical products like shampoos, soaps and lotions are not affected by the prohibition.
Testing positive for THC can result in an “Other than Honorable” (OTH) discharge from the service, which can affect veteran benefits and employment opportunities. The Navy also reports unlawful drug users to the FBI to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which can impact the ability to purchase firearms. It’s unclear, however, how the Navy would enforce an anti-CBD policy, as CBD doesn’t show up on drug tests.
The Department of Defense (DoD) also warns against buying or selling cannabis stocks on the stock market, as the DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility’s current legal position is the ownership of cannabis stocks is considered involvement in “drug-related activities” and is a reportable incident. Owning or selling stocks can also lead to a loss or prevention of security clearances.