Rep. Matt Gaetz Moves To End Military’s Weed Testing On Recruits

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would ban the military from testing recruits for cannabis usage.

Gaetz’s amendment, submitted to the House Rules Committee, would apply to potential enlisted and officer recruits. Despite being prohibited under federal law, medical marijuana use is legal in 38 states, and recreational use is permitted in 23 states and Washington, D.C. The disconnect is contributing to the military’s recruitment crisis, and some observers have argued that eliminating the ban on previous marijuana use could help solve the problem.

“Our military is facing a recruitment and retainment crisis unlike any other time in American history. 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,” Gaetz said in a statement.

Gaetz has previously pushed to remove marijuana’s Schedule I listing under the Controlled Substances Act. He was one of three Republicans to support a bill in the 117th Congress eliminating the designation, which signifies that a listed drug has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other drugs listed under the provision include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

The House Armed Services Committee, of which Gaetz is a member, marked up the Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA in June, before Congress left for the July 4 holiday. The bill passed by HASC a sets Pentagon spending at $886 billion, although some senators hope that Congress will pass another bill specifically for military aid to Ukraine. (RELATED: American Support For Taiwan Drops Amid Continued Ukraine Aid: POLL)

“I’m working hard to convince House conservatives to support this NDAA,” Gaetz told Politico. “There’s a lot to love. We are ending critical race theory in the military. We’ve taken a hatchet to the very harmful [diversity, equity and inclusion] initiatives that have emerged in very strange iterations. And we’re meeting the nation’s defense needs.”

The military has faced recruitment issues due to a “to-fat-to-fight problem” among Americans, previous marijuana usage among recruits, and military families pushing their children away from a military career due to DEI in the armed forces.