I have seen products made with some form of hemp in stores, but I’m not sure if service members are allowed to consume these. What is the DoD’s policy?
Hemp, or Cannabis sativa, is the plant that naturally contains the substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) although the chemical can also be produced in a laboratory. Historically, the hemp plant has been used for fiber in clothing, rope, paper, etc., as well as for nutritional, medicinal, and recreational purposes.
According to a 2013 report on hemp prepared for Congress, different varieties (and parts) of the cannabis plant are grown and used for different purposes. “Industrial hemp” is typically less than 1% THC, with the stems and seeds being the plant parts primarily used. Cannabis grown to produce marijuana usually contains around 10% (but can exceed 30%) THC in the parts of the plant used, primarily the flowering tops and leaves.
DoD policy as set in DoDI 1010.01 specifically mentions marijuana, “synthetic cannabinoids,” and controlled substances (which include THC), but does not mention hemp per se, and test levels for THC are described in DoDI 1010.16. However, regardless of THC content, each military service has its own policy on the use of hemp products:
- Air Force: AFI44-121, section 3.2.2, states that “ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited.”
- Army: Army Substance Abuse Program, AR600-85, section 4-2p states “this regulation prohibits Soldiers from using Hemp or products containing Hemp oil.”
- Navy: No formal policy on hemp, but OPNAVINST 5350.4d, Drug Testing Program, Enclosure (2), states that the “Navy has ‘zero tolerance’ for...the wrongful use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of a controlled substance,” which includes marijuana and THC. It further defines “use” to include “ingesting.”
- Coast Guard: ALCOAST 026/99 and COMDTINST M1000.10, section 3.A, states that “ingestion of hemp oil or products made with hemp oil is misconduct that will not be tolerated in the Coast Guard.”
Currently, hemp seeds are being added to a variety of foods (such as yogurt), and based on service policies such products are prohibited. However, there may be changes to these policies in the near future, at which time HPRC and OPSS will update this information.