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Despite cannabis being legal in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia, it’s still illegal for use by U.S. service members and other Department of Defense employees, and can end their careers. That was the message delivered by panel members during a virtual Q & A recently hosted by the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP)

Panel members for the “Weed & Wellness in the Military: Virtual Q & A” included Army Capt. Mark Fyke, a military attorney at Fort Detrick, Maryland; Christina B. Johnson, the founder of two cannabis companies; Chief of the Fort Detrick Police Corey Steffy; Dr. Patricia Frye, an integrative medicine doctor in Takoma Park, Maryland; Elia Charles, a social work supervisor with the Soldier Recovery Brigade (formally the Warrior Transition Brigade), in Bethesda, Maryland; and Michelle Laska, drug test coordinator with the ASAP at Fort Detrick.

Ashley Bush and Jillian Farrow, ASAP prevention specialists, coordinated the panel discussion not only to educate, but to allow military members and DoD employees an opportunity to ask direct questions and receive clarification concerning the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and it’s legal status.

ASAP has noticed an increase in THC drug positive cases since its addition to Army Drug Testing Panel July 2021, making it important to bring onboard experts who not only could speak to but possibly help clarify and clear up confusion surrounding the use of THC and other illegal drug substances.

The use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, lotions and other products containing THC and CBD are prohibited by DoD. THC and CBD are in both marijuana and hemp, and detectable under the drug testing program. Wrongful use and/or possession of these substances is unlawful under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Laska pointed out that DoD makes a distinction between medical marijuana and medicinal marijuana. “As a federal employee, medical marijuana prescribed by your doctor in a pill form, such as marinol, would be legal. Medicinal marijuana would be the prescription you would get from the doctor and you go to a dispensary, and that is not legal for a federal employee.”

Marinol has generally been prescribed to service members with nausea, vomiting and pain challenges transitioning out of the military, Charles and Fyre explained.

Frye, who also serves on the U.S. Cannabis Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, said she believes marijuana will eventually become legal at the federal level. “It’s a matter of sorting out pharmacology and getting FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval for medical cannabis.”

Fyke agreed, but strongly added, “I do believe as a condition of federal employment, [marijuana] will still be prohibited for use by federal employees and military service members. I think it will be a long time before the U.S. military decide to go the route of Canada.” He explained Canada treats marijuana use among its service members the same as the use of alcohol…it’s allowed as long as it doesn’t affect the service member’s duty performance.

Steffy, credentialed by the International Association of the Chiefs of Police as a drug recognition expert since 2009, said he also believes marijuana will become legal at the federal level at some point, and “local, state and the federal governments are going to need to adapt to the changing environments. We need to prepare appropriately, and that includes educating the public about its usage.”

“If your job is saying, ‘No,’ don’t take the risk, buy these products and use them,” Charles said. “Know the policies at your job and make sure you’re not doing anything to put your career in jeopardy,” she added.

For more information regarding the Army Substance Abuse Program, email Ashley Bush, ASAP prevention specialist at Ashley.d.bush5.civ@army.mil, or Jillian Farrow, ASAP prevention specialist, at jillian.d.farrow.civ@army.mil.





Date Taken: 05.01.2022
Date Posted: 05.04.2022 14:27
Story ID: 419946
Location: US



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