WASHINGTON D.C. — Air Force drug testing officials have long warned military members to avoid products that include hemp seed or hemp oil in order to ensure military readiness.
In 2013, news reports on the Air Force’s prohibition of a popular yogurt brand spotlighted a regulation, in effect since the late 1990s. Military members were told to avoid a Chobani yogurt called Blueberry Power Chobani Flip because it contained hemp seeds and walnuts that can be mixed into the yogurt.
Chobani stated it would remove the ingredient from this product, according to the Air Force Surgeon General’s office.
Recently, some popular nutrition and snack bars were added to the list of products that military members should avoid. Specifically, a variety of Strong and Kind bars contain hemp seeds, according to the packaging.
“The Air Force has a long-standing policy in place that prohibits military members from ingesting any product, regardless of manufacturer, that contains or is derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil,” said Capt. Adam Koudelka, legal adviser for the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory, Air Force Medical Operations Agency, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. “Military members are not prohibited from ingesting other products not containing or derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil.”
The prohibition is explained in Air Force Instruction 44-120, paragraph 1.1.5, as well as AFI 44-121, paragraph 3.2.2, which states, “Studies have shown that products made with hemp seed and hemp seed oil may contain varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient of marijuana which is detectable under the Air Force Drug Testing Program. In order to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited.”
Captain Koudelka emphasized each military member is individually responsible for ensuring he or she is compliant with this policy, and failure to do so is a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
If an Airman is found to have consumed hemp seeds or oil, that individual can be punished for disobeying the regulation, according to Gregory Girard, deputy director of administrative law, Office of the Judge Advocate General.
Reading labels is the best practice, because the ingredient can be contained in myriad products available in health food stores and throughout consumer markets.
“Air Force military members should be mindful that products containing hemp seeds can be found at health food stores, including health food stores and commissaries located on military bases, and therefore the best policy for Airmen to follow is to be vigilant about what they put into their body,” Koudelka said. A good practice is to read product labels prior to consumption to see whether the product contains hemp seed or hemp seed oil.