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CBD products off limits on federal installations

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Story by Jennifer Spradlin, June 12, 2019

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. —  CBD is turning up everywhere: Is it okay for service members and federal employees to use?

The Cannabidiol industry has grown rapidly in recent years – popping up everywhere from gas stations to local drugstores. A derivative of the cannabis sativa L. plant, commonly known as marijuana, CBD is turning up in a variety of everyday products from coffee to lotion.

CBD is non-psychotropic and does not produce a high; however, it has been linked to other medical benefits by industry leaders. These claims range from pain and anxiety relief to suitability for treating serious medical conditions like cancer.

An Air Force Academy military justice attorney and adviser, Dominic Angiollo, said availability and legalization at the state level should not imply compliance with federal or military law.

“Even drugs you can purchase at Walgreens with a prescription – if you overuse them or use them contrary to how they were prescribed – can still be illegal,” Angiollo said.

CBD’s inundation of the marketplace has created a buyer-beware scenario not unlike workout or beauty supplements.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of CBD in treatment for seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Except for this specific drug formulation, CBD remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and is off-limits to service members and federal employees without a prescription.

Lack of oversight, incorrect labeling, and limited testing are at the heart of Department of Defense concern over CBD products. According to a 2017 study cited by the Air Force Administrative Law Directorate, some 21 percent of 84 CBD products sold online contained THC – the principle psychoactive agent in marijuana. Additionally, only 31 percent of these products contained accurate levels of CBD per their labeling.

Lieutenant Gen. Jay Silveria, Academy superintendent, recently cautioned both service members and federal employees against CBD use.

“It is important for our civilian personnel to know that although they may not be covered by the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], because CBD remains a controlled substance, it may not be brought onto USAFA grounds,” Silveria said in a base-wide email. “Its use during duty hours could be a basis for discipline, if the CBD is not FDA-approved and/or the employee does not have a prescription for its use.”

Service members and federal employees should remain diligent consumers and follow official guidance on CBD products.