If it puts the CBD lotion on its skin, it gets reduced in rank again.

That’s the message the Navy wants to make abundantly clear after the service released updated guidance on the use of hemp and cannabidiol, or CBD.

The new policy comes with a ban on products such as lotions, shampoos, soaps, and lip balms, according to a Navy release, after the service’s previous policy concerning CBD, announced in August 2019, did “not apply to the use of topical products.”

The update signals yet another step the service is taking to try and eliminate the possibility of sailor exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which the service says “could negatively impact mission readiness and disqualify a sailor from continued service.”

Navy officials once more cited the potential inaccuracy of CBD product labels as a reason for the ban, pointing at the chemical’s legalization by the Food and Drug Administration as a potential for label complacency.

“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,” Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite said in the corresponding NAVADMIN.

While current federal guidelines allow for legalized use of CBD products that contain a THC concentration of less than 0.3 percent, the Navy’s updated policy aims to eliminate any gray areas by banning all products that could yield a surprise for sailors when the time comes to take a urinalysis test.

“This really is about the health of the force and ensuring the Navy remains a drug-free workplace,” LA Parker, the Drug Detection & Deterrence branch head for the 21st Century Sailor office, said in the release.

“We have to be fit to fight and can’t take a risk in allowing our sailors to consume or use these types of products.”

Current policy states that sailors who test positive for THC, or other barred substances “for which they have no valid prescription,” will be administratively separated and face an “Other Than Honorable” discharge.

Also included in the update is clarification that sailors who have a valid prescription will still be authorized to use FDA-approved CBD products. Clothing products made from durable hemp goods will also continue to be permitted.

The Navy’s update to its policy follows an approval by the House of Representatives of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow all service members to use legalized products containing hemp and CBD.

Introduced by military veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, the amendment states that the “Secretary of Defense may not prohibit, on the basis of a product containing hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp, the possession, use, or consumption of such product by a member of the Armed Forces.”

Another NDAA amendment, introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., would allow service members to reenlist despite an admission to previously using marijuana while separated from the military.

“Smoking pot just once shouldn’t prevent a patriotic American from fighting for our country,” Gallego said in a July release. “We need to finally exercise some common sense when it comes to our marijuana policies, and I’m glad my amendment will lead us in that direction.”

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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