The U.S. military has taken great pains to communicate to service members that CBD is off limits. And, apparently at one point, that included staging and filming a fictional press conference on the policy, where questions touched on hypotheticals like the eating cannabis-infused burritos and washing cats with CBD shampoos.
Around the time that the Department of Defense (DOD) codified its rules around the non-intoxicating cannabinoid in 2019, the military released the fake “CBD Policy Press Conference,” which it described as a “humorous look” at the serious policy.
The department isn’t newly publicizing this three-year-old video, but it recently showed up on a web search result that Marijuana Moment picked up on. And in the interest of informing the public, we couldn’t in good conscience let this one go unnoticed.
Numerous military branches have addressed CBD use in the years since—and some, like the Air Force, have discussed the ban in lighthearted terms—but the DOD production took the idea of a cannabis PSA to a new level.
Here’s the transcript of the fictional military news briefing on CBD:
DOD spokesperson: Thank you for coming today. We just want to reiterate that the DOD’s policy on CBD is that it cannot be used by service members for any reason due to its unregulated nature and the possibility of THC. If a service member has a positive drug test, CBD is not a valid excuse. I can now take a few questions.
Reporter #1: What about CBD oil?
DOD spokesperson: Again, service members cannot take any kind of CBD—food, oils, lotions, et cetera.
Reporter #2: What about CBD lotion?
DOD spokesperson: That would fall into the classification of any kind of CBD.
Reporter #2: So that would be a no?
DOD spokesperson: That’s be a definite no.
Reporter #3: What if it’s in a ganja-guac burrito with CBD aioli at Nacho Camacho’s?
DOD spokesperson: The sauce has CBD in it?
Reporter #3: Yes.
DOD spokesperson: Then no, the service member cannot eat that.
Reporter #4: What about dandruff shampoo for cats with that amazing CBD enhancer?
DOD spokesperson: Service members cannot use any type of CBD. I would suggest the cat learn to clean itself, which I was under the impression that’s pretty much all they do in the first place…. Wow. Read my lips. No CBD. No exceptions. Those are the rules. It’s not worth losing your career.
This is all responsive to a federal policy change. When Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its derivatives like CBD were federally legalized, opening up a large commercial market for the cannabinoid.
After its initial 2019 announcement (and the release of this video), DOD more broadly reaffirmed that CBD is off limits to service members in earlier notices published in 2020.
About one year after hemp was federally legalized, the Air Force sent out a notice that similarly warned against using CBD products that are commonly found on the market. A Massachusetts base of the Air Force told pilots last year that they could face disciplinary action for possessing any type of hemp product, even if it’s “for your pet.”
Officials with the military branch also said the previous year that it wants its members to be extra careful around “grandma’s miracle sticky buns” that might contain marijuana.
The Navy, for its part, issued an initial notice in 2018 informing ranks that they’re barred from using CBD and hemp products no matter their legality. Then in 2020 it released an update explaining why it enacted the rule change.
The Naval War College has gone so far as to warn Sailors and Marines about new hemp products on the market, issuing a notice earlier this month that says members can drink a new Pepsi-owned Rockstar energy drink that contains hemp seed oil.
The Coast Guard said that sailors can’t use marijuana or visit state-legal dispensaries.
A factor that may have influenced these policy updates is that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released guidance to federal agency drug program coordinators in 2019 that outlined concerns about THC turning up in CBD products and causing failed drug tests. The agency issued an updated warning in 2020 after several more states voted to legalize marijuana.
That said, a general recently said that the Air Force and Space Force are reviewing marijuana policies and are considering a “common sense” change that could give potential recruits a pass if they test positive for cannabis.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has separately faced criticism over its stance on cannabis issues.
In March, for example, VA made clear that it won’t provide support for treatment involving marijuana as part of a new grants program aimed at preventing veteran suicide.
VA’s position on marijuana has been a source of consistent frustration for advocates and veteran service organizations who have been pushing for expanded research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis.
Photo courtesy of Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.