Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is proposing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would put an end to marijuana testing for military personnel during enlistment and commissioning.
According to a statement by Gaetz, the military is experiencing a unique recruitment and retention crisis. Despite an increase in positive cannabis tests among recruits, Gaetz believes that Americans who use cannabis should not be excluded from enlisting in the armed forces. In fact, he advocates for embracing those who volunteer to serve their country. The New York Times reports that there has been a 33 percent increase in positive cannabis tests among recruits in 2022, even in states where marijuana is legal.
With more states legalizing recreational marijuana, the U.S. government has adjusted its drug testing guidelines, even in the military. Over 3,400 new military recruits who failed their initial drug test in the last five years were allowed to retest. While medical marijuana is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational marijuana is legal in 22 states and D.C., it remains illegal under federal law. Several proposed amendments around cannabis and the military have been put forth, including allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer medical opinions on cannabis as a treatment option in states where it is legal and permitting service members to consume legal CBD products. None of these proposals have explicitly addressed the use of marijuana by active-duty service members.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the “pending legislation'” saying it did that as a “general practice.”