A Florida Congressman introduced legislation that would loosen cannabis restrictions for military personnel in an effort to help boost recruitment efforts.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) proposed H.R. 2670, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would end cannabis testing for military members. H.R. 2670 would also allow recruits who have recently consumed cannabis to enlist in the military.
The proposed legislation is in response to a sizable increase in the number of military recruits that have failed their drug entry tests. A total of 4,710 recruits failed their military entry drug tests in 2022, up nearly 33 percent compared to 2020, The New York Times reports.
Our military is facing a recruitment and retainment crisis unlike any other time in American history,” Gatez said in a tweet. “I do not believe that prior use of cannabis should exclude Americans from enlisting in the armed forces. We should embrace them for stepping up to serve our country.”
NDAA is an annual reauthorization of U.S. military programs and is considered vital legislation, which could increase the chances of any adopted amendments being included in the bill and passed into law.
In 2022, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Congress that less than one-quarter of Americans aged 17-24 were qualified to serve in the military without a waiver due to drug use, criminal records, and obesity, NBC News reports.
Recreational cannabis is legal in 23 states and medical cannabis is legal in 15 states.
More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans support legalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, according to an October 2022 Monmouth University poll. In addition, the majority (54%) of Americans report ever having tried cannabis, with similar numbers across both sides of the political spectrum – including 56% of independents, 54% of Democrats, and 51% of Republicans.