DOD prohibited substances: Marijuana, CBD and hemp

  • Published
  • By Greg Chadwick
  • Air Force Materiel Command Health & Wellness Team

The use of marijuana and marijuana-related substances is prohibited by all military service members (active duty, Reserve and Guard members) and Department of Defense civilian employees.

Even though some states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I Controlled Substance, with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.

Marijuana use is the leading cause for a positive military drug test, accounting for 78.7% of all unique drug positive results among Air Force active duty members. This is according to the Status of Drug Abuse in the Department of Defense – FY 2020 Drug Testing Statistical Report and Analysis.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant and contains many naturally occurring compounds including tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the psychoactive chemical that produces impairment and the “high” that marijuana is often known for.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for “cannabidiol” and it comes from hemp. You might find CBD used in:

  • -Pills, capsules, and softgels
  • -Gummies
  • -Oils
  • -Topicals like lotions, creams, and salves
  • -Skincare products, including beauty products, acne treatments, and bath bombs

Other than one prescription drug product to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any other CBD products.

What is Hemp?

Hemp comes from the cannabis plant. Hemp may be found in common products including:

  • -Hemp milk and coffee
  • -Granola and energy bars
  • -Chips and crackers
  • -Protein powder and yogurt
  • -Shampoo and conditioner
  • -Lotion, soap, and hand sanitizer

It is important to read the ingredients of food, drinks, lotions, and oils before use. Hemp and CBD products are unregulated by the FDA and may contain underestimated levels of THC.

The DOD and Service-level policies prohibit service members from eating and using products made or derived from hemp to include CBD no matter the claimed or actual THC levels. This policy is necessary to ensure military readiness while securing the reliability and integrity of the drug testing program. The prohibition does not apply to durable goods such as clothing.

For federal employees, using marijuana products by any method – smoking, eating, and/or applying as an ointment – is prohibited regardless of state or local laws.

The FDA has cautioned the public to beware of using commercially–available hemp and CBD products. The THC-concentration levels of these products are not certified and may contain higher levels of psychoactive THC than what the product label states. The DOD and the component services have an active drug test program for both military and civilian employees that readily detect THC use.

For those whose lives are negatively affected by marijuana use, there are many options that lead to recovery. If you or a loved one need help, contact the Employee Assistance Program or Military OneSource for free and confidential information and treatment referral.

Military and families can contact Military One Source at 800-342-9647 or visit Civilian employees and families can contact Employee Assistance Program at 866-580-9078 or visit

For information on education materials for DOD-prohibited marijuana-related substances, visit or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration collects information on thousands of state-licensed providers who specialize in treating substance use disorders and addiction. For help finding treatment, contact, or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).