(CNN)Less than a year ago the US Navy said it didn’t want its Marines and Sailors using hemp or cannabidiol (CBD) products. Now they’ve expanded its ban to include topical products like lotions and shampoos.
The Navy says the new rules were made to “protect sailors from potential tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exposure that could negatively impact mission readiness and disqualify a Sailor from continued service.”
“It is impossible for consumers to determine how much THC a product actually contains in the current environment where label claims are not trustworthy,” the Navy said in an online statement.
Department of Defense officials say “it’s not reasonable or practical” for them to test every hemp product to figure out which products could prompt a positive urinalysis result, according to the statement.
Hemp, CBD and marijuana: What’s legal in the US?
CBD is the chemical found in hemp and marijuana plants, and even though CBD is derived from marijuana, it’s simpler for companies to use hemp-derived CBD because the extract is legal in all states. But even though it’s legal, it’s unregulated, which mean it’s important to question health claims that may appear on labels.
Health care workers working long shifts are finding CBD helpful on their days off for restorative sleep pain and inflammation, low back and neck pain, and panic attacks.
Studies have also revealed that CBD may be a compound of choice for those struggling with drug addiction, and it may even have the potential to help opioid addicts avoid a relapse through reducing cravings and anxiety, according to study author Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai (AIMS) in New York.
In December 2018, Congress voted to legalize the cultivation of hemp after months of debate and negotiation between lawmakers.
For decades, the federal government has treated hemp just like any other cannabis plant. Since 1970, it had been classified as a schedule 1 drug on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, alongside heroin, LSD and marijuana. The DEA defines schedule 1 drugs as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
The 2018 bill took hemp off that list.
CBD is commonly known to be in things like oils, supplements and vapes, but it’s showing up in shampoos, lattes, body lotions, gummy bears and dog treats. It’s being sold in coffee shops and farmer’s markets, mom-and-pops and high-end department stores, and even drugstore chains like CVS.
Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes.
Enforcing a drug-free workplace
“This really is about the health of the force and ensuring the Navy remains a drug-free workplace,” LA Parker, Drug Detection & Deterrence branch head for the 21st Century Sailor office said in the online statement. “We have to be fit to fight and can’t take a risk in allowing our Sailors to consume or use these types of products.”
Sailors and Marines with a valid medical prescription for CBD products approved by the Food and Drug Administration are still allowed to use them.
The Navy said they don’t restrict the use of “durable hemp goods like rope and clothing.”
If a service member tests positive for THC or other substances without a valid prescription, they could be discharged, and the discharge characterized as “Other Than Honorable.”
“Every Sailor has a personal responsibility to diligently avoid intentional or accidental exposure to THC and other prohibited substances,” the statement said.
CNN’s Lisa Drayer, Harmeet Kaur, Alicia Wallace and Parija Kavilanz contributed to this report.