The United States Army is increasing the number of waivers it grants to potential recruits who used cannabis in their youth. In 2017, the Army granted more than 500 such waivers, as opposed to 191 last year. Three years ago, they didn’t grant a single one.
“Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, the man in charge of Army’s recruiting command, told the Associated Press.
The change in policy doesn’t necessarily reflect a softer attitude towards recruits who like to get high. It might have something to do with the Army’s efforts to increase enlistment, as they a.
Stoner recruits are not necessarily in the best company when it comes to new additions to the Army. The Army is also increasing its quota of what are called “Category IV” recruits. These are applicants who scored a 31 or less out of 99 on the Army aptitude test. In 2013, the Army only took 0.2% Category IV recruits. In 2015, it rose to 0.7%. In 2017, Category IV accounted for 1.9% of recruits.
“We made a conscious decision to bring in some more Category 4 soldiers during the months that it is most difficult for us to meet the training seat requirement,” Snow said, as reported by USA Today.
In addition, the Army is increasing the number of waivers it grants in general. They’re up 20% to 8,000 total in 2017. Most waivers are granted for physical or mental health.
It might sound concerning to some to have an increase in soldiers with mental health problems and poor aptitude scores. During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005, the Army set its Category 4 limit to 4%. Discipline and behavioral problems increased in the following years.
“Quality matters more than quantity. If you make the numbers, great, awesome. But do not break the standards,” Gen. Mark Milley told the Associated Press. “Standards have to be upheld, period. So if we come in at less than the ideal number, but we’ve maintained the standards, that’s success.”
Meanwhile, the loosening of recruiting standards may soon actually increase. “The possibility does exist that the numbers of marijuana waivers and category fours could increase. I hope not, but it’s too early to tell right now,” said Snow.
Photo via Flickr user PV KS