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  • Hemp Is Legal But Still Banned In The Navy

“While currently deemed legal for civilians in some states, all hemp and CBD products are strictly prohibited for use by Sailors.” This comes from a statement released on August 7 by the Navy. Despite the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, personnel from the military branch said that, “Navy policy has not been affected” and “all products derived from hemp or marijuana are still prohibited.”

The statement elaborates:

“Sailors and Marines are prohibited from knowingly using products made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 U.S.C. 1639o), including cannabidiol (CBD), regardless of the products THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians. Use means to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body. Use includes the knowing use of hemp products designed to penetrate through the skin layer, including but not limited to transdermal patches.”

According to the Navy’s memo, the reasoning for the ban is partially due to CBD products not being inspected and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). the policy says that, “Consequently, Sailors and Marines cannot rely on the packaging and labeling of hemp products in determining whether the product contains THC concentrations that could cause a positive urinalysis result.” In the Navy, testing positive for THC may result in an “Other Than Honorable Discharge,” which impacts employment opportunities and veteran benefits.

Also, in low-key kind of a snitch move, the Navy reports positive drug tests to the FBI to be placed on permanent records, which could impact the ability to purchase firearms or ammunition in the future.

More from the statement:

“Substance abuse by members of the Armed Forces is incompatible with military standards of good order and discipline, performance, and operational readiness. It is the goal of the Department of the Navy to eliminate substance abuse.”

Though sweeping, the policy does leave a few exceptions. While hemp products that penetrate the skin are strictly banned, that doesn’t apply to FDA-approved medications, such as the CBD-based Epidiolex, or “topical products such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, or soaps.” 


In a press release regarding the policy, the Navy wrote, “It is the responsibility of every Sailor to ensure that he or she is diligent in avoiding intentional or accidental exposure to THC and other prohibited substances.”

The Navy also a handy .pdf fact sheet that included answers to some frequently asked questions:

Q: I’m stationed in a state with legalized recreational marijuana. Am I allowed to use marijuana or CBD products?

No. The local law does not apply to Sailors as it relates to these substances. Navy policy is zero-tolerance for substance abuse, and it was not affected by the 2018 Farm Bill and its provisions regarding hemp- and marijuana derived products. Using these products could cause a THC positive urinalysis result, which can negatively impact your Navy career and future benefits.

Q: Am I allowed to use CBD products that are labelled “THC-free?”

No. CBD products are not allowed under Navy’s drug policy. These products are not regulated or inspected by the FDA, so they may still contain THC even if their labels claim otherwise.

Have you ever asked a question to which you already knew the answer but hoped you’d get a different one anyway? Yeah, me neither.

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Hemp Is Legal But Still Banned In The Navy

By RJ Blade

RJ Balde is a freelance writer, host, actor, performer, having worked in cannabis writing and advocacy for the last decade. RJ has worked with numerous organizations and media companies in cannabis writing, show hosting, and advocacy, including Airtime, Eaze, SDA Media,, and WeedTube.

boblee 3 years ago
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Billmelater 3 years ago
Just an FYI this goes for the entire maritime industry. If you have a merchant mariner card or not and or work for the military.
stonedalone 3 years ago
Always love your articles, I didn't know any of this stuff!