Former troops who admit to using cannabis may soon be able to ask the military to pretty please forgive them and let them re-enlist. The House Armed Services Committee approved a military defense policy bill worth about $750 billion earlier this month which contains the cannabis provision. The bill is now winding its way through the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., the amendment is specifically crafted for service members who have left the military and wish to re-enlist. Waivers would be issued on a case by case basis, both for potential members who admit to cannabis use and those who have received misdemeanor cannabis convictions.
Under current rules, admitting to smoking the reefer would lead to disqualification from reenlistment.
“Smoking pot just once shouldn’t prevent a patriotic American from fighting for our country,” Gallego said in a release, as reported by Military.com. “We need to finally exercise some common sense when it comes to our marijuana policies, and I’m glad my amendment will lead us in that direction.”
Under the Trump administration, the military has broadly expanded its standards for admittance to the armed forces. In 2017, the Army changed their policyto allow potential service members to enlist, just as long as they swear they won’t ever do it again.
At the same time, the army also doubled the number of people it would admit who had scored poorly on their military exams. Reporting on it at the time, USA Today, wrote, “Faced with increasing demand for new soldiers, the Army has reached deeper into the pool of marginally qualified recruits, offered hundreds of millions in bonuses and relaxed the process for granting waivers for marijuana use.”
“There’s ample evidence that the social and personal consequences are far worse for alcohol use than for marijuana use — but we wouldn’t be able to assemble even one Marine Corps regiment if we excluded everyone who’s ever had a sip of beer or whiskey,” Gallego said.
Indeed, the military’s obsession with cannabis use seems a bit odd. The Pentagon is currently moving to criminalize even the use of CBD derived from hemp, even while roughly 43% of active service members engage in binge drinking.