Soldiers who use the cannabis extract cannabidiol, or CBD as it is known, risk failing their compulsory drugs test.
Sales of the substance – which is legal and sold as oil, capsules or vaping liquid – have doubled in the UK over the last two years, with manufacturers claiming it can help anxiety, sleep problems and chronic pain amongst other things.
But with no quality assurance tests yet in place, the Service is warning troops they risk disciplinary action.
Unlike cannabis, CBD does not contain the compound that gets you high (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC).
But Maj Lucy Williams (RAMC), a doctor in Army HQ’s Public Health department, had the following warning: “In the UK the Informed-Sport laboratory tests supplements for prohibited substances, and it does not currently test CBD.”
“So there is no way of knowing whether the item you have purchased is free from traces of THC or contamination that may result in a positive drugs test.”
“If you want to use CBD it is best to wait until a quality assurance test is in place and products definitely free of THC and contaminants can be safely purchased.”
The officer also added a note of caution to any claims of the substance’s positive impact.
“Many believe CBD has health benefits but at the moment research is ongoing and the only medicinal use it has been approved for is epilepsy,” she said.
Soldier. (2019) Hold Back on the Oil, Troops Told. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. November 2019, pp.17.