Recent federal legislation (the 2018 Farm Bill) defines “hemp” as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives… with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.” The same law makes hemp no longer a controlled substance.
Hemp is prohibited for use by Service Members.
The hemp plant naturally contains the substance delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. However, the amount of THC varies widely depending on the varieties (and parts) of the cannabis plant.
Even though the new law removes low-THC hemp as a controlled substance, the law also recognizes FDA’s authority to determine whether hemp or any of its derivatives are allowed in foods, drugs, and dietary supplements. For more information, please visit FDA’s press release and FAQs.
- On 26 February 2020, DoD issued a memorandum that establishes new policy (effective 1 March 2020) that applies to "active duty Service members and the members of the Reserve Components." The passage of the House bill in 2020 has not changed DoD policy. See the Announcement on the home page of the OPSS website (OPSS.org), which states, “Despite the recent bill passed by the House, DoD policy has not changed regarding hemp and hemp-based ingredients such as CBD.
- Updated Navy policy ALNAV 074/20 further states that “Sailors and Marines are prohibited from using any product made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 U.S.C. 1639o), including CBD, regardless of the product's THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians,” including all topical products, except prescribed, FDA-approved drugs and “durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing.”
- Coast Guard policy ALCOAST 308/20 states, “Coast Guard members are prohibited from using products made or derived from hemp including CBD, regardless of the product’s THC concentration…, and regardless of whether the product may be lawfully bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians.” The policy defines “use” as to “inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body (e.g. oral ingestion, smoking/vaping inhalation, topical skin application)” and includes “topical products containing hemp and CBD, such as shampoos, conditions, lotions, lip balms, or soaps….[but] does not apply to the use of durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing.”
- Updated Air Force policy DAFMAN 44-197 states, “the use of products containing or products derived from hemp, including but not limited to delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is prohibited. This prohibition applies regardless of the route of administration, ingestion, or use. Exception: This prohibition does not apply to the use of durable goods containing hemp, such as clothing.”
- Updated Army policy AR 600-85 states, “The use of product made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 USC. 1639o), including cannabidiol CBD, regardless of the product’s THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians, is prohibited, regardless of the rout of administration or use… Examples of products that are prohibited include, but are not limited to, the following: products that are injected, inhaled, or otherwise introduced into the human body; food products; transdermal patches; topical lotions and oils; soaps and shampoos; and, other cosmetic products that are applied directly to the skin…The use of durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing, is not prohibited.”
For more information specifically about CBD, please read the OPSS article about cannabidiol.
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8‑THC or delta-8-THC) is another form of THC present in the cannabis plant, and it can be produced in a laboratory from CBD. It is now being sold as an ingredient in various products such as vape liquids. Like delta-9-THC, it is prohibited for use by Service Members, and it could show up on a routine drug test. See the FDA Consumer Update on Delta-8 THC for more information.
The bottom line: All products containing hemp are prohibited for use by Service Members.
Want this information as a shareable graphic? OPSS has a handout on CBD and hemp.
Updated 14 November 2022