Cannabidiol (CBD) has been having an amazing run over the past few years. For an ingredient that was almost unknown a decade ago, CBD has quickly captured the minds and hearts of people around the globe. Said to have potent medicinal properties, the cannabis extract is used to manage a variety of conditions ranging from anxiety and high blood pressure to chronic pain.
However, despite the immense popularity cannabidiol has garnered, the industry is still heavily unregulated. Without a comprehensive regulatory structure, the market has been flooded with a plethora of sellers, each selling products promising untold medical benefits. Due to this, numerous institutions have shied away from using CBD, and the U.S. Air Force is the latest to register their disapproval for CBD products.
On Tuesday, the service issued a notice to its Airmen stating that products containing CBD oil are off-limits. Products with CBD oil will lead to positive results for Airmen undergoing urinalysis to detect marijuana. Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits service members from using marijuana, and those who do will be subject to punishment.
“It’s important for both uniformed and civilian Airmen to understand the risk these products pose to their careers,” says Major Jason Gammons, Air Force Office of the Judge Advocate General spokesman. “Products containing unregulated levels of THC can cause positive drug tests, resulting in the same disciplinary actions as if members had consumed marijuana.”
One issue that has plagued the CBD industry is quality control. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, for cannabis to be classified as legal industrial hemp, it has to have less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the component responsible for the psychotropic high that cannabis is famous for. However, the industry is flooded with CBD products that have more than the legally mandated level of THC.
The Air Force cited a 2017 report by Marcel O. Bonn-Miller from the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine that examined 84 CBD products sold online. The report stated that less than a third of the products actually contained the required CBD levels while 21% of the products had more than the minimum 0.3% THC required by the Farm Bill.
“The important thing for Airmen to consider is the level of uncertainty for these products. We want to ensure we arm them with the facts so they can make informed decisions and not jeopardize their military careers.”
Airmen who test positive for marijuana during urinalysis typically receive a discharge and an Article 15 sanction, which is the highest form of military non-judicial punishment.
CBD industry experts are of the view that industry actors like Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) could be disappointed by the announcement of the Air Force, but they understand that the institution has to take precautions to safeguard its personnel from some products that may have contents that differ from what is on the label.
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