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Q&A about new marijuana laws for Illinois, military members

As of Jan. 1, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana for recreational use will be legal in the State of Illinois.  However, use and possession of marijuana on a military installation, or by military members or Department of Defense employees, is still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

Members should be vigilant about the contents of what they eat, drink, and buy as marijuana, CBD, and hemp products become more prevalent.  This includes making sure that civilian friends and family don’t leave these products in a military member’s home or vehicle. 

Federal law establishes zero tolerance for drug use by any federal employee.  Because marijuana and its derivatives, including CBD, are still controlled substances under federal law, use or possession of these products could form the basis for security clearance revocation, disciplinary action, or removal from federal service. 

Individuals who are authorized to enter the installation may have their driving privileges revoked if they are suspected of driving under the influence of any intoxicant, to include marijuana.  Additionally, civilian employees, contractors, and dependents who bring marijuana or CBD products on base could also be barred from the installation.

The following are some common questions answered by Team Scott’s legal team.

 

How are hemp and CBD related to marijuana?

Marijuana, hemp, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, all come from the same plant – Cannabis sativa L.  Under the Controlled Substances Act, any derivative of the Cannabis sativa L. plant is “marijuana.”  Marijuana, and derivatives of marijuana, are Schedule I controlled substances.   

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the “Farm Bill”) created a small exception to this definition of marijuana.  Derivatives of the Cannabis sativa L. plant containing no more than .3 percent THC would be defined as “hemp,” not marijuana.  However, even though this definition removes “hemp” from the list of controlled substances, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently regulate hemp production.  Without FDA oversight, there is no way to know for sure that products labelled “hemp” actually contain less than .3 percent THC.  For that reason, products labelled “hemp,” “CBD,” “THC-free,” etc. should be treated with caution. 

 

Are Airmen authorized to use any marijuana, CBD, or hemp products?

There are a small number of FDA-approved medications that contain THC or CBD that may be prescribed to military members.  If a member is prescribed one of these medications, he or she must consult with a military medical provider before bringing these medications on base.   

Otherwise, marijuana and its derivatives are controlled substances under federal law, and the use or possession of any such substance is punishable under Article 112a, Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

Military members are specifically prohibited from the knowing ingestion of hemp, and products derived from hemp.  This includes any CBD product labelled as “hemp-derived” or “THC-free.” The ingestion of hemp products is punishable under Article 92, UCMJ.  Ingestion means any way that a product or chemical gets into the body – regardless of whether the form is smoking, vaping, oral or intravenous use, or the use of transdermal patches or even creams and lotions absorbed by the skin.   

 

What is not authorized to bring on base?

Marijuana and CBD in all forms are prohibited on Scott Air Force Base.  However, individuals may be granted an exception for prescribed FDA-approved medications that contain THC or CBD.  Any military member or civilian prescribed an FDA-approved medication that contains THC or CBD should seek clearance from military medical providers, their supervisory chain, and the civilian personnel office, as applicable, before bringing those medications on base.

Hemp products – not including CBD – may be brought on base, however, military members are prohibited from ingesting hemp.  Even so, all individuals should be cautious about the hemp products they consume or bring onto the installation, as the FDA does not regulate these products, and there is no way to ensure they contain less than .3 percent THC. Any product containing .3 percent of THC or greater is classified as marijuana. Examples of these products include hemp lotions, soaps, and oils that are labelled as being CBD or THC free.

 

What about military spouses or family members?

Though affiliated with military, be it active duty, Reserves, or National Guard, military spouses are still treated as civilians in the eyes of the law and the military. So, if something is legal in your state, then military spouses are treated the same as any other civilian.

But that doesn’t give you free rein to use marijuana or CBD wherever you want. This is especially true on government property as these are still federally-controlled substances. Government property includes on base or in any military housing (on base or off).

Also, be aware that even if you can use cannabis, your service member cannot.  If you leave cannabis in a vehicle that your service member drives onto base, he or she has technically introduced an illegal substance onto a military installation.  The use or possession of an illegal substance could end a service member’s career.