Greek yogurt maker Chobani announced yesterday that it will remove hemp seeds from its Blueberry Power Flip after the Air Force banned its consumption over the weekend because of the hemp seeds' "potential to skew drug testing."
"The Air Force has not restricted military members from consuming Chobani Greek yogurt; rather, only Chobani yogurt that contains hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited, just as any product which contains or is derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited," Capt. Adam Koudelka, the legal adviser for the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency, told the Air Force Times.
According to Air Force code, hemp products contain "varying levels" of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—that are "detectable under the Air Force Drug Testing Program." It continues: "In order to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited."
Despite its physical likeness to marijuana, hemp's trace amounts of THC fall short of providing a mind-bending experience when ingested. Hemp and marijuana are of the same plant species, but are of different subspecies. Hemp is genetically different from marijuana and contains less than 1% THC, while marijuana's THC levels average at about 10%, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
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"At a time when a clear majority of Americans supports legalizing marijuana, it's absurd that the Air Force would ban its personnel from being able to consume a healthful snack just because it is made with non-psychoactive parts of the cannabis plant," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, which advocates the legalization of marijuana, told Opposing Views. "Hemp has very little THC and simply cannot get an Air Force pilot intoxicated, no matter how many cups of this yogurt he or she consumes at breakfast."
The United States is the only industrialized country where hemp cultivation is prohibited. U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products—like textiles, paper, oils, cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals—may exceed $300 million per year, according to current industry estimates.
"This is just the latest example of the extreme overreach of the failed 'war on drugs' and those who wage it," said Angell.