US Air Force’s Marijuana Waiver Program Sees Triple the Expected Participation

Within the first year of a new marijuana waiver program, the United States Air Force has seen over three times the anticipated participation.

(Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Beaux Hebert/Air Force).

Last year the Air Force announced a pilot program that allows those that have tested positive for marijuana to receive a waiver in order to be retested and possibly enlisted. The move was seen as a way to address to growing trend towards marijuana law reform and an increase in marijuana use among service members.

A spokesperson for the Air Force tells Military.com that although they expected only around 50 people a year to make use of this new program, in its first year they issued 165 waivers, over triple expectations.

The news comes as the Air Force is working to increase its active-duty members; the Air Force missed its recruiting goal for the past fiscal year by 11%, the first time since 1999.

“[A]llowing a second test in the recruiting process is the right thing to do”, says General Christopher Amrhein, the Air Force Recruiting Service commander. “For FY23, this policy change allowed us to bring in approximately 165 additional high-quality airmen.”

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The Air Force’s pilot program, announced in September 2022, began seeing outpaced results from the start, reports Military.com. While initially expecting only 50 cases per year, by December — just three months into the program — the service already had 43.

Air Force Recruiting Service spokeswoman Chrissy Cuttita told Military.com in an email at the time that the initial spike in numbers “could mean as more states adopt more leniency toward cannabis and THC derivatives, we anticipate a continued increase” in waiver requests.

To be considered for the waiver, applicants have to score well on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, have graduated high school, and not have any other potential barriers to joining the service like a medical or past legal issue, according to the Air Force. Notably, more than 50% of all new recruits come from states where marijuana is now legal, at least for medicinal use.

 

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