Drug testing in the recruiting service

It is reported by Stars & Stripes that the NDAA for 2025 will include a provision barring testing for marijuana of new applicants for military service.

The NDAA proposal’s idea is that the marijuana testing requirement discourages potential recruits from enlisting. This concern is particularly significant because the Services are currently facing recruiting challenges. By removing this barrier, the provision aims to attract a larger pool of applicants, potentially addressing the recruiting problems.

Preservice drug use can be a bar to enlistment. It depends on what drug, how often, and how close in time to the application process. It was not unusual to hear of recruiters telling a poolee to say they only experimented with the drug when applying. With that statement, a waiver could be possible. The benefit to the recruiter was getting an enlistment and meeting her quarterly quota.

The move follows the increasing decriminalization of marijuana use by many states over the years.

The news is that, as of May 2024, the Department of Justice is considering moving marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance. Part of the reason appears to be that marijuana is being used increasingly in medical situations. The Department of Health & Human Services has produced information to DoJ to support the change, which finds there are “currently accepted medical uses” for marijuana.

The notice of proposed rulemaking: here. Office of Legal Counsel: here.

Rescheduling DOES NOT mean that marijuana use will be permitted to servicemembers or that they may not be disciplined and separated for marijuana use. It is likely that permitted use will continue to be limited to those who have a diagnosed medical need. I doubt DoD medical facilities will be dispensing marijuana to patients for pain management. Which is interesting because we know thousands of servicemembers are prescribed serious pain relief medications–opiods–that can be habit forming.

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