Recruits who have previously been blocked from serving their country because of marijuana use can let out a collective cheer of joy. The US Military is waiving cannabis use for people who have smoked marijuana in the past, as long as they promise not to light up while enlisted.
Major General Jeff Snow told the Associated Press, “provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long.”
This new-found leniency comes in light of increased pressure to recruit more people into the army within a generation of young Americans who are ever more exposed to cannabis. The number of young Americans looking to enlist in the army has declined over time and the military can no longer afford to be picky. The army is looking to bring in 80,000 recruits next year and will be hard-pressed to do so unless they soften their stance on the green stuff.
In 2016, the Military granted 191 waivers for recruits who had a history of cannabis use. In 2017, that number grew to 500. Going forward, they will be waiving cannabis use completely in the hopes of being able to recruit more people.
Since 2012, eight states and the District of Columbia have voted for recreational cannabis with 29 states having a medical system in place.
The deputy head of Air Force recruitment, Lt. General Gina Grosso told Military “what we decided to do is stop asking [about] prior marijuana use at the recruiter level.” This ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy means that recruits who have previously smoked marijuana have more of a chance of making it. Cannabis consumption whilst in service, however, remains prohibited.
Cannabis hasn’t been the only thing the Military has loosened up on either. Back in August, the military lifted its ban on waivers for people with a history of mental illnesses, including drug and alcohol abuse. Restrictions on physical health, tattoos and aptitude test scores have also been loosened.
These waivers on cannabis use prior to joining the military may be a step forward. Among veterans, cannabis has been a welcome relief from dangerous opioids that are often prescribed for conditions resulting from service such as PTSD.
It may be that now that cannabis use prior to service has been taken off the table as an issue, there can be a greater focus on medicating with cannabis whilst still in service.