In a recent statement of administration policy, the White House has expressed its opposition to a proposal within the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that seeks to prevent military branches from testing for marijuana as a condition for enlistment or commissioning. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the statement on Tuesday, highlighting concerns over military readiness and safety.

The administration specifically took issue with Section 532 of the NDAA, which stipulates that military branches “may not require an individual to submit to a test for cannabis as a condition of enlistment of such individual as a member, or the commission of such individual as an officer, of an Armed Force.” According to the OMB, while the Biden administration acknowledges Congress’s intent to widen the pool of military applicants, it opposes the removal of cannabis testing requirements. “The use of marijuana by servicemembers is a military readiness and safety concern,” the statement read.

The contested section resembles an amendment from last year’s DOD appropriations legislation spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Following the release of the OMB statement, Gaetz criticized President Biden’s stance, suggesting it was driven by political motivations rather than genuine policy concerns. “Because Joe Biden was running out of ways to turn off young voters, he decided to oppose any cannabis reform that didn’t enrich big pharma,” Gaetz remarked.

Marijuana’s active ingredient, delta-9 THC, has been the most frequently detected substance in positive drug tests among active duty military personnel. In response, some military branches have begun issuing waivers for recruits who test positive initially, reflecting a broader trend of easing cannabis-related restrictions.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would remove the cannabis enlistment provision. This amendment will be reviewed by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday. Additionally, a bipartisan amendment is under consideration that would require the Secretary of Defense to develop a clear definition for the reenlistment waiver process for individuals who test positive for THC.

This clash over cannabis policy is not new for the Biden administration. Despite advocating for certain cannabis reforms, such as the marijuana scheduling review and issuing mass marijuana pardons, the administration has consistently upheld a spending bill rider that prevents Washington, D.C. from using local funds to regulate adult-use marijuana sales.

As the debate continues, the Biden administration’s stance on cannabis use among military personnel highlights the ongoing complexities and conflicts in federal marijuana policy reform.

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