Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Hears Hemp Case


The Department of Defense (DOD) seemingly has an issue with their enlisted personnel eating healthy foods – and that had an onerous effect for one Air Force major that led to his general court-martial.

Now before the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the nation’s highest military court is contemplating the effectiveness of the Air Force’s ban on consuming any snacks containing hemp seeds or products that were made from hemp seed oil.

Joseph Pugh, the Air Force major convicted of dereliction of duty by a panel of officers at a general court-martial for eating a Strong & Kind granola bar, had his case heard by the Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.

Per DOD regulations, all service members are prohibited from using any controlled substances. Those “controlled substances” included marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids – but not hemp-based products.

Less than consistent, or easy to comprehend, each branch of the armed services has their own pet peeve.

Which Branch Bans What?

  • Air Force – Hemp Oil/Seeds/Products
  • United States Army — Hemp Oil/Seeds/Products
  • United States Coast Guard – Hemp Oil/Seeds/Products
  • United States Navy – No Formal Hemp Policy
  • The United States Marine Corps – No Formal Hemp Policy

Ubiquitously available in an expansive list of health food products, snacks made from hemp seeds or its oil can be purchased in grocery stores from coast-to-coast … and even at commissaries operated by the Defense Commissary Agency. A popular plant-based protein source for health-conscious individuals, hemp-based products raked in approximately $688 million in 2016.

At the root of this hemp case is the potential confusion of a false-positive during a DOD drug test and whether the military services should ban the consumption of all hemp-based products.

In the original court-martial case, the judge granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the charges after conviction. Explained in his ruling, the judge stated, “there is simply no credible evidence to believe that these legal, commercially available products pose the slightest threat to the integrity of the Air Force’s drug testing program.”

Less than pleased by the outcome of the first trial, the United States Government appealed the initial decision under Article 62 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, arguing the initial judge “abused his discretion by dismissing the Additional Charge and its Specification, when he found that Air Force Instruction (AFI) 90-507, Military Drug Demand Reduction Program, which bans the ingestion of hemp seeds, is overly broad, serves no valid military purpose, and did not have a sufficient nexus between military necessity and the duty the AFI sought to impose.”

To ban or not to ban hemp … that is the appellate court question.

Potentially setting future policy for the armed services, the appellate court has been tasked with deciding whether or not the lower court’s ruling – dismissing the original charge – was erred. While a ruling in favor of Major Pugh would establish a legal precedent for future cases, the court has the option of ruling in favor of the major without addressing the Air Force’s hemp seed ban.

About Author

My name is Monterey Bud and I was born in Long Beach and raised on the central coast. I surf, dab, burn and write. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I have been writing about marijuana strains, science, and politics for since 2012. A Big Sur cultivator from the pre-helicopter days, I'm a big fan of new strains and breaking news. I can be reached on Twitter @MontereyBud


  1. this was a very interesting article. Rather it is alcohol or marijuana-related products we have to have strict guidelines. This is our country’s military and we want them to always be safe.

  2. The ignorance in our armed forces is astonishing! Hemp is not marijuana. the seeds are an excellent source of protein and is not psychoactive at all. There should be no problem with the use and is of benefit to the user and the service.

  3. Steven Carl Griffin on

    It’s normal to see any branch of our military take the proper legal steps to assure a rational decision is made over this matter. As in any matter. This awkwardly concerns what many still do believe is indeed a drug. Hemp has had its fair share of an unwarranted spotlight, but this particular light could end up being as bright as our sun. At this time, in this court, we do see an overturn of the U.S.A.F.’s judicial answer, not only shame on that itself, but “Major” shame on our own U.S. Attorney General. AKA “The Top Elf”, “Smaller Hand Jeff” and “Baby Weed Whacker” or as some refer to him as Jeff Sessions. Who do you think is behind the Gov’s attack on an already desided verdict in the first place? Leave it to this administrations lack of any basic knowledge(of pretty much everything), in the science behind hemp vs. MJ. to get involved. As far as a mind or body altering substance is concerned the evidence has long been in.
    Let us all hope that these tiny little hands concerning this “case” do not get a win. No matter how “small” that might be…

    • I’m not sure its about ignorance. After all, the US Govt has patents on marijuana compounds themselves and funded (NIMH) the Israeli Dr. Mechoulam I think its more about political agendas, greed, sprinkled with a whole lot of job security. Check this Dr out. He was the 1st person to extract the THC compound and has been studying its medicinal effects in Israel for decades

      Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discusses medical cannabis: Cancer Cure

  4. Huh? Men and women of the air force can be prescribed opioids and other addictive drugs and yet, we need need strict guidelines for non-psychoactive products that have time and time again yielded positive results of their medical / health efficacy? Look again at the “which Branch bans what?” above and you can see that even the DOD doesn’t have strict guidelines for each branch.

    I’ve enjoyed using hemp hearts, CBD and other medicinal strains to help with my PTSD and depression. I’m only one veteran on a long list of others who have educated themselves and have found non-psychoactive and THC compounds to lessen or eliminate symptoms related to their disorders. I’m a director at Operation Compassionate Care (501 C3 non-profit and we have multiple testimonies from Veterans from Vietnam, Korea and Gulf wars who swear by the use od medical cannabis as opposed to alcohol, benzos, opioids and other addictive and riddled side effect drugs. check out our website at Let me know if we can help!

  5. there was alot of boys in Viet nam that started smoking weed for the first time,what the hell we didnt know how long we were going tl live so what the hell. everyone knew and no one cared then! why cant we veterans have the same rights as everyone else??vets get caught loses all their benefits and meds for every…thats wrong,,we did our time,
    some us went on to be Federal agents, i know alot kf them that
    smokes and takes a chance of losing it all.

  6. The reason the US Air Force bans hemp products is that it could invalidate any test for marijuana consumption. The test for marijuana also tests positive when hemp is consumed. For example, is someone tests positive for marijuana, that person could argue ‘All I did is have a hemp based product.’ That’s the problem. So disallowing consumption of hemp products is needed to insure that marijuana tests are accurate. So because of this logic, it makes sense for the USAF to ban consumption of hemp products.

    Not taking sides, just clarifying the issue.

    • Bullshit! Do your research. THC is what they look for. Most hemp or CBD products will always have like 0.03 % of THC because, DUH it is derived from the whole plant. The test should disregard that low almost non existent reading

  7. Hilarious and effing ridiculous!!! This man’s job should be reinstated.
    The laws and rules regarding “Drug testing” Need to be reexamined. HEMP does NOT get one high. So thanks to the ignorance of our law makers some of us suffer due to their BS. And we can all thank WR Hearst for convincing the govt to ban Hemp in order to make millions on cotton

  8. Mike L. Wallace Jr. on

    Paper , Oil , Plastic , Cloth & Synthetic Drug Companies created Marijuana Prohibition . Marijuana Prohibition deprived our bodies natural Endocannabinoid System of necessary Cannabinoids . Causing it to go Out of Whack . This created an enormous amount of Disease & illnesses for Greedy Synthetic Drug Companies to leach off of . It would not be a stretch to say most disease & illnesses today are caused by Cannabinoid Deficiencies .

Leave A Reply