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Golden tan could lead to silver cuffs

Posted on April 24, 2004

Editors note: The reader should note that the true warning being issued has more to do with a military working dog detecting the scent of hemp seed oil, not the possibility of falsely testing positive for THC when using hemp seed oil based body care products.

As the warmer months approach and summer vacation plans begin forming, many Cannon members begin the process of getting that perfect tan.

While the actual medical consequences of tanning are a different topic altogether, I want to discuss the potential legal consequences of obtaining that perfect color.

Recently, the tanning market has been flooded with new and improved moisturizers and accelerators containing hemp seed oil, hemp oil, Tetra Hydro Cannabinol-9 (THC) or marijuana byproducts.

Some of the local tanning establishments in the Clovis and Portales area are selling these products right off the shelf.

While all military members are aware that ingestion and wrongful use of marijuana is prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, some may not be aware that military members are also prohibited from ingesting any product containing hemp seed or hemp oil.

Air Force Instruction 44-121, 3.5.5 states that laboratory studies have shown that products made with hemp seed and hemp oil may contain varying levels of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, which is detectable under the Air Force drug testing program.

The instruction continues by stating that to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oils is prohibited. Failure to comply with this regulation is a violation of Article 92 of the UCMJ.

Clearly, nobody would ingest lotion or tanning oil, as it says in the AFI, but the lotion or oil will, by the simple nature of its use, come into contact with your skin.

There can be a chance of absorption under certain circumstances.

Forensic pathologists at Brooks City Base Lab, San Antonio, Texas, caution that if the lotion or oil was to come into contact with openings in the skin, such as cuts or scrapes, a person’s body could absorb some portion of the chemicals and possibly cause a military member to “pop positive.”

The possibility is simply not worth the risk.

According to Dr. Laura Haley, Forensics Toxicologist at the Brooks Lab, besides poppy seeds and hemp products, some herbal teas and children’s medicines contain substances that can make a military member pop positive.

“There are even stimulants in power drinks,” she said.

Dr. Haley is consulted about 50 times a year and testifies 25 times a year on drug cases. She said she hears hundreds of excuses as to how drugs got into a person’s system.

“I hear ‘It was slipped into my drink’ or ‘It was in the food’ all of which are highly unlikely,” Dr. Haley said.

Even though the chance of “popping positive” for THC after using tanning products is statistically small, there are other consequences everyone should be aware of.

Every time a military member or spouse drive on the base, they are implying consent to have their vehicles searched.

The 27th Security Forces Squadron often uses military working dogs to help with those random searches.

The K-9’s are trained to detect odors, including residual odors, of several different drugs, including; marijuana, THC and hemp seed oil. If someone were to innocently use a lotion or oil containing these products, then were searched while entering the base, there is no doubt that a military working dog could detect the odor of the oil or lotion on the body or within the car.

“When a military dog alerts, there are several steps SFS members take,” said Staff Sgt. James Pitts, 27th SFS kennel master. “That includes searching the vehicle, the person, their pockets and personal possessions. In some cases, members are asked to perform a urine test.”

While the lotion was not used with intent to break any laws and is not illegal, the fact that a military working dog alerts on your car or your person creates a perception that nobody wants.

The base prosecutors, the unit commander, first sergeant and members of the investigative agencies on base are briefed after a K-9 alerts on a car.

Again, it’s not the kind of attention any Airman desires and can be avoided, in this case, simply by using one of the other products on the market that do not contain THC, hemp seed or hemp seed oil.

While many of us want that golden tan this summer, think carefully before you make the purchase that can create consequences that could last much longer than the tan.

Related articles:

Hemp Sun-Screen Story Wrong on Drug Testing
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Airmen May Get Burned by Hemp Sun Lotion
Monday, May 03, 2004

Army Captain, Hemp Food Makers Get No Apology
Friday, April 09, 2004

Copyright © 2004, Mach Meter. All rights reserved.

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