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U.S. Military May Lift Restriction on Past Marijuana Use

The Pentagon announces that pot smokers could soon be allowed to serve their country.

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In an attempt to attract more soldiers, the Pentagon is considering making some amendments to the military’s recruitment policy – a move that would give previously discounted candidates, including those people with a history of using marijuana, a chance at becoming one of brave men and women charged with protecting the freedom of the United States.

In a memo entitled “Forging Two New Links to the Force of the Future,” which was published on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said he was concerned that the military was now being forced to recruit from a very limited pool of individuals because of policies that automatically disqualify certain applicants from being considered for employment. 

A fact sheet included with the memo said the U.S. Military was now on a mission to review the enlistment criteria and "assess the feasibility and impact of updated standards, such as those related to: body composition, physical fitness, swim tests, past marijuana use, single parents and tattoos."

The news of the military’s marijuana policy evaluation comes just months after Carter told a group at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF event that the Pentagon would be open to hiring individuals that may have experimented with marijuana in the past. When asked about whether the Department of Defense would hire someone who had just attended Burning Man, Carter responded, “yes, we can be flexible in that regard, and we need to.”

“We need to, while protecting ourselves and doing the appropriate things to make sure that it’s safe to entrust information with people, we need to understand — and we do — the way people [and] lives have changed, not hold against them things that they’ve done when they were younger,” he added.

Since marijuana is now considered mainstream, it has been harder to find people living in the United States that have not smoked the herb at some point in their lifetime. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found there are somewhere around 33 million people across the nation (13 percent of the U.S. population) who now admit to being regular cannabis users. The survey also found a whopping 43 percent of the American people has tried marijuana at least once.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, with five more state expected to join this growing list in the upcoming election. That means more young people are starting to consider marijuana a normal part of civil society. This could eventually make it necessary for more government agencies, like the FBI, for example, to reevaluate policies against marijuana in the not so distant future.