The Air Force will soon be implementing a sensible policy for recruits that want to serve their country, but have smoked cannabis in the past. Currently, aspiring airmen are routinely screened for prior cannabis use. Enlistees who admit to cannabis use are automatically disqualified from serving on the force. On January 9, the Air Force announced that the rules that disqualify recruits who have smoked cannabis in the past will be relaxed.
General Gina Grosso is deputy chief of staff for Air Force manpower, personnel and services. “What we decided to do is stop asking [about] prior marijuana use at the recruiter level,” Grosso told Military.com, because “first of all, who really counts how many times they’ve used marijuana? So that just comes off the table.” Getting busted with cannabis in an illegal state is also a disqualifying factor.
The Air Force’s zero tolerance policy on cannabis is still in effect, but the timeline and frequency of aspiring airmen have used cannabis will no longer be a limiting factor. Any active airman that tests positive for cannabis will be swiftly kicked out of the service. Airmen must also go through a MEPS screen to determine if they have a dependence on any kind of substance.
The Air Force admits that their current cannabis policy is inconsistent and detrimental to the force. The standards for cannabis use of the Air Force Academy differ from the standards at the Air Force Recruiting Service, according to Air Force spokesman Zachary Anderson.
“We are always looking at our policies and, when appropriate, adjusting them to ensure a broad scope of individuals are eligible to serve,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody, said in a press release. “These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform.”
The Air Force also loosened tattoo restrictions and health restrictions. Recruits that suffer from eczema, asthma and ADHD will now be eligible to apply for the Air Force on a case-by-case basis. Those who have tattoos, minor health issues, or have experimented with cannabis in the past are now considered deployable.