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New Measure Allows CBD Use by Military Service Members

why soldiers use CBD

Great news for the CBD industry! The U.S. House of Representatives just approved a measure allowing the use of CBD products by military service members. More specifically, the amendment would let service members use products containing hemp and its derivatives, of which CBD is just one. Allowing CBD use in the military is great for our industry, because it’s a sign that cannabidiol is becoming more and more accepted in the mainstream, as well as for our military service members themselves.

Military CBD Use

As recently as February of 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) stated that their “zero tolerance” cannabis policy included CBD. In other words, their policy prohibited the use of CBD by all active and reserve service members, regardless of hemp’s federal legalization or individual state laws. This move was in spite of the fact that the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule One federally controlled substances and effectively legalized CBD products with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less.

The justification for this policy was explained by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan. He stated that the DOD reasoning was related to the fact that “[CBD products] pose a serious risk to the viability of the military drug testing program,” and the “risks and adverse effects marijuana use has on the mission for readiness of individual Service members and military units.”

The recent move by congress towards removing restrictions on CBD in the military can be seen as a response to the Department of Defense policy. Specifically, the new measure states that, “Secretary of Defense may not prohibit, on the basis of a product containing hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp, the possession, use, or consumption of such product by a member of the Armed Forces”.

CBD Amendment to NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act)

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is one of two primary bills that control the budget, expenditures, and policies of the Depart of Defense. This new CBD measure, or amendment, was passed in the House by a vote of 336-71 as part of a package that included dozens of other amendments to the NDAA. Also in the package was a measure that allows the heads of the military branches to reenlist military members who admit to using marijuana, or who were convicted of a first offense marijuana misdemeanor.

Essentially, what the CBD amendment to the NDAA does is apply the 2018 Farm Bill to the military and keeps the DOD from prohibiting CBD products. This law defines any cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC as hemp and removes them from the list of illegal substances. The 2018 law was one of the factors that led to the immense boom in the popularity and availability of CBD over the past few years.

It’s important to note that the NDAA amendment does not proactively approve CBD use for military service members, it only removes the ability of the DOD to ban or prohibit its use. Nonetheless, this is an important step forward and great news for our military.

Why Veterans and Soldiers Use CBD

There are a large number of veterans and active duty service members who use CBD products to provide relief from conditions like anxiety and chronic pain. This amendment recognizes that many people in our military already use CBD to alleviate problems, as well as the fact that often these men and women are faced with the choice of consuming narcotics or nothing at all. By making it easier for them to use CBD, we are helping service members from being forced to take highly addictive, potentially harmful drugs.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, sponsor of the measure, had this to say about CBD use in the military:

“There is great research being done around hemp, resulting in new products coming to market that are proven to help with ailments like insomnia, inflammation, chronic pain, epilepsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress and more. Hemp products provide a form of treatment that serves as an alternative option for those who would rather pursue natural remedies rather than prescription drugs. This amendment passed with strong bipartisan support, ensuring our service members have access to the same over-the-counter products that Americans all across the country benefit from today.”

Does CBD Work?

There is a mountain of anecdotal evidence from CBD users saying that the products help relieve a wide range of health issues and conditions. There have also been numerous studies that have backed up many of those claims. Here are a few of the studies showing the effectiveness of CBD:

  • Both animal studies and human studieshave indicated that CBD may be an effective treatment for decreasing joint inflammation, reducing arthritic pain, and protecting nerves.
  • Another studyfound that CBD was useful in treating several different types of anxiety.
  • When it comes to anti-seizure potential, a studypublished in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there was a 38.9% decrease in the frequency of seizures for patients with Dravet syndrome.

Plus, when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of CBD for relieving certain symptoms, you also have to look at what other possible remedies are out there. As we already mentioned, many people, especially soldiers or veterans who have experienced severe trauma, whether mental or physical, turn to and get hooked on powerful drugs.

If CBD has even the potential to keep people off hard drugs while still providing the positive effects, isn’t that at least worth letting those people experiment with? At Urban Roots, we think so.

Replace Opioids with CBD

A study from 2019 evaluated the effects of CBD hemp extract on opioid use and quality of life indicators in patients with chronic pain. An initial sample of 131 patients was recruited from a private pain management center's investigative population. Of those, 97 patients completed the 8-week study. The majority of the patients included were between 30 and 65 years of age, suffered from chronic pain, and had been on opioids for at least 1 year.

53% of the chronic pain patients greatly reduced or completely eliminated opioid use within eight weeks of adding CBD to their regimen. 94% of the CBD users in the study reported an improvement in their quality of life. The study concluded that “CBD could significantly reduce opioid use and improve chronic pain and sleep quality among patients who are currently using opioids for pain management.”

What Comes Next for CBD in the Military

Both of the cannabis-related amendments we discussed were included in the defense bill approved by the House of Representatives. Next up is the Senate and, if it passes, the President’s desk for signing. With any luck, hopefully these amendments make it through and the government serves military service members in the best way they can in this instance; namely, by allowing them to take their health into their own hands and make the best decision possible for themselves.