Having a medical marijuana card may render you ineligible to serve in the U.S. military.
The drug testing protocols in all branches of the U.S. military are stringent, and the presence of any cannabis in your system could result in disqualification from enlistment. Additionally, if you were previously a medical marijuana cardholder, it could also hinder your ability to join the military.
Discover further information about the intersection of federal law, cannabis, and the military, and understand that, in most situations, the use of cannabis with a medical card is not allowed.
Joining the Military with a Medical Card
Federal law always takes precedence over state law, meaning that it is technically not possible to join the military if you are using illegal drugs. One such drug is cannabis, which is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. Therefore, even if you possess a valid medical marijuana card in your state, federal law prohibits individuals actively using cannabis from enlisting in any branch of the military.
This requirement applies across all branches of the U.S. military, including:
the U.S. Air Force (USAF)
U.S. Army (USA)
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)
U.S. Navy (USN)
U.S. Space Force (USSF)
The U.S. military enforces strict drug testing protocols for individuals seeking to join. In addition to mandatory urine tests prior to enlistment, active service members are subject to random drug testing, which screens for the use of cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana (or its metabolites). Even if not chosen for a random drug test, active service members must undergo annual drug testing.
Consequently, if you hold a medical marijuana card and continue to use cannabis, you will be ineligible to join the military. In essence, if you aspire to enlist in any branch of the United States military, you must discontinue the use of medical cannabis and successfully pass all drug screenings while in service.
There are instances where individuals who have previously possessed medical marijuana cards and desire to join the military may be granted exceptions. These exceptions are typically granted through special waivers and have become more prevalent as states loosen their cannabis regulations.
While flat feet were once grounds for automatic disqualification from military service, recruiters now recognize the value of enlisting a more diverse range of individuals, including those who have previously faced medical issues. Recruiters have the ability to utilize waivers to enlist individuals with prior drug use, such as those who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or other qualifying conditions and seek a waiver for their medical cannabis usage.
Although waivers are becoming more common, they are not easily granted, and the approval process can take several months. However, for those who are granted a waiver, the opportunity to serve in the active duty military becomes a realistic possibility that would have been unattainable in the past.
The Importance of Honesty
Maintaining integrity and openness is essential throughout the enlisting process. It is crucial to be honest when describing any medical cards or cannabis use you may have had in the past. Trying to conceal or falsely portray your medical history might have serious repercussions, including disqualification or even possible legal repercussions.
Possibilities for Enlistment
Being accepted for a waiver opens up the potential of joining the military on active service, which was previously unthinkable. The military is aware that, within certain constraints, people with medical issues can nevertheless effectively participate and perform their jobs. It’s crucial to remember that the availability of waivers may differ depending on the military branch and the particular occupational duties.
Having a medical card, especially for cannabis usage, does not automatically prevent someone from joining the military. Recruiters now take a wider range of medical histories and ailments into account, including individuals who have previously used medical cannabis. Throughout the enlisting process, it is critical to be open and honest about your medical background. It is advised to speak with a recruiter and supply all pertinent information if you are thinking of enlisting in the military with a medical card in order to verify your eligibility.