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US Air Force relaxes marijuana restrictions for new recruits

The US Air Force Thunderbirds are seen rehearsing a flying routine, September 18, 2015 in Forestville, Maryland.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds are seen rehearsing a flying routine, September 18, 2015 in Forestville, Maryland. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. Air Force is making it a little bit easier for potential recruits with a history of marijuana use to take to the skies — as long as they don’t continue to partake in the herb upon beginning service.

Under existing policy, the Air Force disqualified prospective airmen and women who admit to using marijuana a certain number of times within a given timeframe, although the exact criteria varied depending on where applicants were trying to enlist.

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“Some recruiters used if you smoked marijuana less than five times, sometimes it was less than 15 times,” Lt. Gen Gina Grosso, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, told Military.com.

“What we decided to do is stop asking [about] prior marijuana use at the recruiter level… who really counts how many times they’ve used marijuana? So that just comes off the table,” Let. Gen. Grosso added.
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In a policy memo published Jan. 9, the Air Force outlined how it plans to streamline its “pre-accession marijuana usage” guidelines.

“The Air Force will remove any prescribed limits on prior use of marijuana in determining accession qualifications. Subordinate commands and agencies are prohibited from developing separate criteria with respect to pre-service use of marijuana,” the memo stated.

However, the memo stated that a diagnosis of addiction remains an automatic disqualifier, while legal proceedings related to marijuana use could also hamper eligibility.

“The Air Force will maintain a strict “no use” policy. An applicant or enlistee will be disqualified for service if they use drugs after the initial entrance interview.”

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This comes less than three months after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a wide-ranging review of policies concerning marijuana use as well as tattoos, parenthood status and fitness standards, during a speech at the City College of New York.

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