U.S. Air Force relaxes pot policy

While U.S. Air Force pilots won’t be flying high – or even getting high when off the clock – having previously consumed cannabis is no longer an automatic disqualification for joining their ranks.

A new policy announced Jan. 10, which also allows applicants to have tattoos on more than 25 percent of their exposed skin and/or suffer from previously ineligible medical conditions such as eczema, asthma and ADHD, is part of an attempt to attract more recruits.

“We are always looking at our policies, and when appropriate, adjusting them to ensure a broad scope of individuals are eligible to serve,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Cody. “These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not able been able to serve our country in uniform.”

The USAF will keep its strict “no use” policy, and enlistees will be ejected if they found to use cannabis after the initial entrance interview. The new policy also states addiction or substance-related disorders will still disqualify someone from service.

The Air Force currently has a shortage of both pilots and aircraft maintainers. Last August, it offered annual $35,000 retention bonuses to drone pilots to stay enlisted.