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Can Active Duty Military Have a Medical Marijuana Card in Ohio?

can active duty military have a medical marijuana card

Did you know that America has the third-largest military in the world? In September 2023, there were 2.86 million active duty military members worldwide in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard. China and India are the only two countries that have a larger military population than we do in the United States.

Suppose you are in an active duty military branch and you live in a state that has legalized medical cannabis. In that case, local laws permit you to apply for a medical marijuana card. However, there is a disparity when it comes to cannabis between federal laws and state laws.

Active military personnel and veterans have been caught in the gray area of those conflicting federal and state laws. Both veterans and active duty members have symptoms and diagnoses that may benefit from medical cannabis treatment.

In the past few years, there have been exciting cannabis legal reforms that improved access for American military veterans. Let’s dive into the specifics about whether active military members can use doctor-supervised medical cannabis.

Access to Medical Cannabis for Military Veterans

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Veterans are retired from active duty, and the fight to make medical cannabis accessible for them took less time than many thought it would. The critical point is that retired veterans did not pose an operational or safety risk if they chose to use medical cannabis for symptom management. Prohibiting their access to medical cannabis by federal law didn’t make sense.

Many different advocacy groups, such as Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access (VMCA) and the Veterans Cannabis Project (VCP), continue to work to change federal laws regarding access to medical cannabis for American veterans. The goal was to allow VA healthcare providers to be able to certify veterans for medical cannabis.

Directive 1315 Clarifies Federal Stance on Medical Cannabis Use for Veterans

That hasn’t happened; however, in a surprising announcement, Veteran’s Affairs indicated thV.A. VA patients would not lose their healthcare benefits if they used doctor-supervised cannabis. A public health announcement (VHA Directive 1315), Access to VHA Clinical Programs for Veterans Participating in State-Approved Marijuana Programs, was issued on July 28, 2023, and stated:

  • Veterans will not be denied. VA benefits because of marijuana use.
  • Veterans are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with the VA provider.
  • VA healthcare providers will record marijuana use in the Veteran VA VA medical record to have the information available in treatment planning. As with all clinical information, this is part of the confidential medical record and protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.

That was great news for veterans, who now understand that disclosing the use of medical marijuana will not jeopardize VA healthcare benefits. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for active members of the United States Armed Forces. Veteran cannabis vs active duty use are entirely different things, according to the federal government.

Can I Legally Use Medical Marijuana as an Active Member of the Military?

can i get medical marijuana card in military

To put it simply, no, an active member of the military is not able to use marijuana, be it medically or recreationally, even if the state or country they are currently stationed in has legal use laws. At the time of writing, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, making its use in any capacity illegal.

This is not the first time we have seen this discrepancy have far-reaching implications. Any public place that receives federal funding, directly or indirectly, must also obey these laws. This is why pharmacies do not carry medical marijuana despite the state health and pharmacy boards, which have a crucial role in creating and regulating medical cannabis use.

Can I Join the Military if I Use Medical Marijuana?

What happens if you want to join the military but you have an active medical marijuana card? The answer is the same. Due to the scheduling of marijuana, even having a state-legal medical card does not exempt you from their prohibition. The background check done on all possible entrants also has access to medical records, as these records may be disclosed under exceptional circumstances.

How Can Medical Marijuana Help Service Members?

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Unfortunately, many men and women who make up our military will experience an injury or illness at some point during their careers. Whether purely mental or physical, they must receive the best possible care before, during, and after the incident.

Chronic pain, one of the most common reasons for people seeking out a medical marijuana recommendation, is also very common in active duty military members. Fortunately, those who use medical marijuana have found it very helpful and have even reduced their use of over-the-counter analgesics or opioids.

Many service members also suffer from anxiety and depression. These troubles are very complex and may be due to physical problems, mental changes, or any combination of the two. Marijuana is also commonly used amoU.S. US adults to help relieve these problems, with research finding positive outcomes in many cases.

Is This Going to Change?

While active service members are prohibited from using medical marijuana, spouses and family members are civilians. This means that they are free to apply for and use state-legalized medical marijuana. If they are residing in a military installation or base, however, its use is still illegal. It is a felony offense to use cannabis on any federally owned property.

Advocates point to the many positive effects marijuana can have, especially for those injuries and conditions most common in those who serve. The physical and mental benefits of marijuana may be able to help those who have had no luck with traditional pharmaceuticals or those who have debilitating treatment-resistant symptoms.

Would Rescheduling Cannabis Open Access for Military Service Members?

At the request of President Joe Biden, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted a study to determine whether cannabis should be classified into another category in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

On August 29, 2023, the HHS issued a recommendation to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow cannabis to be reclassified from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance. If placed into Schedule III, cannabis would be classified as other drugs like Tylenol (with codeine), ketamine, testosterone, and anabolic steroids.

At the time of writing, the DEA has not yet decided. Historically, however, the DEA has complied with recommendations from the HHS. If cannabis becomes a Schedule III drug, it may be possible for off-duty military members in the Air Force, Army, and other federal employees to use medical marijuana.

How rescheduling would change according to federal law is anyone’s guess, but at present, drug testing remains a mandatory requirement for all federal-level employees. Military branch service members who fail a randomized drug test are placed on inactive duty and required to complete substance abuse training and submit a clear test before returning to active duty.

Do you qualify for medical marijuana? Suppose you are not a current federal employee or active duty service person, and you have at least one of the eligible qualifying conditions in your state. In that case, you may be able to get a medical marijuana card.

 

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