As the legalization of marijuana is becoming more common across different states, the military is making changes to its protocol surrounding the drug history of individuals who decide to enlist, Yahoo News reported.
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In efforts to reach solider quotas, the Army has decided to distribute waivers for people who have used drugs in the past with the expectation that they will refrain from using drugs while serving in the military, the news outlet writes. The decision comes after the demand for soldiers has been on the rise. For this fiscal year, the Army has a challenging task of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers all while complying with the Defense Department’s regulations. Last year, there were 191 waivers granted and this year that number significantly increased to over 500.
The implementation of this plan seems to be working in the military’s favor. According to the news outlet, the Army enlisted 6,000 more recruits than they did in 2016. “Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, head of the Army’s recruiting command, said in a statement according to the source. He also added that as states continue to make marijuana use legal, he expects the number of waivers to rise.
Those who head up recruitment in the Army have been trying to explore different ways to recruit individuals who fall under “category four” which means they scored low on their aptitude test. Those who are classified in that category are barred from enlisting if they have any type of history with marijuana and they can’t request any waivers for other reasons. Snow says that the Army plans on maintaining its standards but will continue to find pathways for more people to enlist to increase the number of members.
“The big thing we’re looking for is a pattern of misconduct where they’re going to have a problem with authority,” Snow told USA Today. “Smoking marijuana in an isolated incident as a teenager is not a pattern of misconduct.” Some critics call the increase in marijuana waivers worrisome since years ago the military ran into issues when recruits with criminal records were hurriedly enrolled in the military to meet a high demand for members during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Marijuana is currently legal in Colorado, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Maine. Several other states throughout the country have lowered the penalties for possession of marijuana.