Whether you are just starting out your military career or you've been thinking of joining, the question of Delta 8 usage may pop up. Hemp-derived Delta 8 is a compound that occurs naturally in cannabis plants.
Yet, its legality and use within the military are a subject of ongoing debate. Given the strict rules against controlled substances in the armed forces, it is important to know where the military stands on Delta 8.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalized hemp and hemp products, including those with trace amounts of THC. Yet, the military has its distinct guidelines. As a service member, you should be aware that the Department of Defense maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, including an illegal substance like THC, irrespective of their legal status at the federal level.
While Delta 8 THC may be legal in some states, it remains a prohibited substance within the military, much like its close cousin Delta 9 THC. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) lays out specific regulations prohibiting the use of marijuana, THC, and other controlled substances by military members, irrespective of their legality under federal law or state law.
Military members found in possession of such substances, or testing positive for THC, may face dismissal or other legal and professional consequences. So, regardless of the many potential benefits of hemp-derived products, choosing to use Delta 8 may put your military service at risk.
What is Delta 8?
As an active-duty soldier, you've likely heard about Delta 8 and CBD products from your fellow service members. Delta 8 is a minor cannabinoid found in trace amounts in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Although it is psychoactive cannabinoid, Delta 8 is chemically distinct from the more commonly known Delta 9 THC.
The key difference lies in the location of a specific chemical bond. In essence, Delta 8 offers a 'lighter' version of the typical THC high associated with marijuana use, leading many to seek it out as a preferred alternative to Delta 9 THC.
Its rise in popularity has been significant, particularly because it's often derived from hemp, which is legal at the federal level under the Agriculture Improvement Act. Despite this, service members should know that all forms of THC, including Delta 8 are prohibited by the Department of Defense (DoD). The risk of testing positive for banned substances is just not worth jeopardizing your military career.
What are the potential benefits of Delta 8?
The popularity of Delta 8, particularly among veterans is hard to go unnoticed. Why is this? One reason is that many users report experiencing a range of potential benefits. Unlike its more famous sibling, Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 is known to produce a milder, clear-headed high, which may include benefits such as pain relief, improved sleep, and reduced nausea.
Another factor that adds to the appeal of Delta 8 is its legality in many states. This accessibility allows people, excluding military service members, to use Delta 8 without the fear of breaking state laws.
However, remember that federal law still classifies Delta 9 and marijuana as a controlled substance, unlike Delta 8 THC. For active duty personnel of all branches of the military including the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy, using Delta 8 could result in failed drug tests and potential separation from the military.
Why is Delta 8 Legal?
Delta 8 officially became legal as a result of the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, often referred to as the "Farm Bill." This Act legalized hemp and hemp-derived products, including CBD and minor cannabinoids, so long as they contain no more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis.
Given that Delta 8 is often derived from hemp, it exists in a legal gray area in some states. The Farm Bill's true intention was to support the hemp agriculture industry and the CBD market, not specifically the psychoactive use of cannabinoids like Delta 8. You will find that many states have already moved to restrict or even outright ban Delta 8, while others allow it.
Federally, the Controlled Substances Act lists Delta 9 THC as a Schedule I controlled substance, placing it in the same category as drugs like cocaine. However, the Act doesn't explicitly include Delta 8, adding to the legal ambiguity. Despite this, the DEA has issued guidance stating that all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol remains illegal.
Keep in mind, legality at the state level doesn't necessarily equate to legality within the military. Service members are subject to military law, which unfortunately maintains a zero-tolerance prohibition stance toward THC and marijuana use.
Can Members of the Military Use Delta 8?
It's crucial to maintain the discipline and rigor that service demands. The Department of Defense maintains its opinion that the use of Delta 8 products and even CBD products may pose significant risks.
Regardless of legal gray area that Delta 8 THC exists within, their stance on the matter is clear-cut. According to military regulations, service members are prohibited from using substances that can cause a failed drug test, regardless of the substance's legality.
Should you decide to use Delta 8 and test positive in a military drug test, you could face administrative separation, including mandatory processing for discharge. Even a first-time offense could have severe consequences on your career in the military.
So, despite the widespread use of hemp-derived THC products, its use is risky and probably not worth jeopardizing your place within the military ranks.
Can those with security clearances use Delta 8?
For those with security clearances, maintaining the utmost professionalism is at the top of the priority list. Individuals with security clearances are held to high standards, and even minor indiscretions can have serious consequences.
The use of substances like THC hemp products and CBD products is no exception. Moreover, the use of substances like Delta 8 could also raise questions about an individual's judgment, reliability, and trustworthiness—all of which are crucial factors considered in the adjudication guidelines for security clearances.
Therefore, if you hold a security clearance, we suggest you avoid using Delta 8 THC, not just to pass drug tests, but also to maintain the trust placed in you as security clearance holder.
Why Veterans and Active Duty Military Turn to Delta 8?
Given the stressful nature of active duty and the hardships veterans can often face, it's not surprising why many turn to substances like Delta 8 THC to help them cope with various issues such as pain management and improved sleep quality.
The many potential benefits, such as anxiety relief, better sleep, and potential pain management, make it very appealing. Many veterans report finding relief from its use in many ways after leaving the service.
For those looking to buy Delta 8 products be sure to check out Everyday Delta for a wide selection of hemp derived products from CBD to Delta 8 and Delta 9.
Will Delta 8 Show up in a Military Drug Test?
The short answer is yes. Even though Delta 8 THC is a different compound from the more infamous Delta 9 THC, it can still lead most positive drug tests to a positive test for THC.
These drug tests don't typically differentiate between the different forms of THC—they simply detect the presence of THC metabolites in your system. In fact, the DoD said that in 2021, Delta 9 THC accounted for 73% of all failed drug tests and of that 43% were caused by Delta 8 use.
Therefore, even though the many potential benefits of Delta 8 may be enticing, the risks associated with its use, for those in the military, far outweigh the potential rewards.
Final Thoughts, Need for Military Cannabis Reform
As cannabis and hemp legality continues to change across many states, many are calling for reform in the military's stance on cannabis and related substances. This call comes amid growing recognition of potential health benefits linked to cannabinoids and changing societal attitudes towards cannabis.
For now, the Department of Defense's policy remains clear for active duty military personnel: the use of substances that can lead to a positive drug test, including Delta 8 THC, remain strictly prohibited. There is a small glimpse of hope however as some branches have begun to adopt some more lenient polices for incoming recruits and service members.
Although this strict stance can be frustrating, particularly given the evolving perceptions around cannabis as a whole. Until there's a change in policy, it's advised to play it safe by avoiding the Delta 8 THC.