BY TOM ANGELL ON JANUARY 10TH, 2017
At least one branch of the U.S. military is about to become a lot more cannabis-friendly.
In a policy memo issued Monday, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James wrote that going forward, prior marijuana use is “not disqualifying” for new recruits.
Previously, recruits entering the Air Force faced inconsistent questions and restrictions regarding prior marijuana consumption, depending on where they were enlisting.
“We didn’t ask the same questions. Some recruiters used if you smoked marijuana less than five times, sometimes it was less than 15 times,” Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, told Military.com. “What we decided to do is stop asking [about]prior marijuana use at the recruiter level, [because]first of all, who really counts how many times they’ve used marijuana? So that just comes off the table.”
In a press release announcing the new policy, the Air Force said that its former approach to recruits’ marijuana use was “not reflective of the continuing legalization of marijuana in numerous states throughout the nation.”
Under the new policy, “drug dependency” and prior “legal proceedings” associated with marijuana use will continue to be potentially disqualifying, as will any cannabis consumption following a recruit’s initial entrance interview.
The move comes a few months after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made headlines by saying that the military should stop turning away so many potential recruits just because they’ve previously used drugs.
“It’s an important question and the answer is yes, we can be flexible in that regard, and we need to,” Carter said at the time.
The Pentagon chief was responding to a hypothetical question at a TechCrunch Disrupt event in September about whether someone who went to the Burning Man festival and sampled “goodies” should be eligible for a tech engineering job with the military.
“We are changing that in recognition of the fact that times change and generations change,” he said. “And by the way, laws change as respecting marijuana and so forth.”
“We need to, while protecting ourselves and doing the appropriate things to make sure that it’s safe to entrust information with people, we need to understand – and we do – the way people [and] lives have changed,” the secretary said. “Not hold against them things that they’ve done when they were younger.”
The new memo also loosens restrictions on recruits with asthma, ADHD an eczema, as well as those who have tattoos.