To whom it may concern,
I have a few questions about Disqualifying Conditions for Military Enlistment as described in the DOD Instruction 6130.03. First, I will begin with some background on myself. I am currently 3 years into a competitive University pursuing a Bachelors of Science. I have an exemplary academic record, with a 3.8 GPA in the most competitive college within the University. I am beginning to decide the various career paths I am most interested in. I had no intention of joining the Military (Specifically the Air Force) until a few months ago, as both my parents are firmly anti-war advocates and no one in my family has ever served. As I was beginning to do my research I began to look into a variety of career tracks through the Air Force, I decided that I would try to become an officer through the OTS upon my graduation. I am most interested in special forces, intelligence, and emergency management.
I ran into some difficulties when I was beginning to research disqualifying conditions. When I was 18, I decided to get my Colorado Medical Marijuana Card to self-treat my acute lower back pain incurred from athletics during high school. To be transparent, I lied to the “medical marijuana doctor” to get a Medical Marijuana Card to be able to legally smoke marijuana with my friends. This diagnosis from a “medical marijuana doctor” was not evaluated by my primary physician and I am unsure whether or not it is on my official medical record. I soon realized that Marijuana is not for me, and I have not consumed cannabis since the early months of 2018 and do not plan to until I have completed serving my country.
In my research, I have found that the Air Force has recently taken a more lenient stance towards pre-enlistment Marijuana use; “The Air Force will still have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to airmen smoking or using marijuana, but how many days, week or months prior to enlisting that a potential airman used will no longer be a limiting factor” (Military.com). In addition, the Air Force Spokesman also states “Any condition that would require a prescription of medical marijuana would probably be a disqualifying condition, to begin with [which would presumably be detected during MEPS]” (Military.com). In my particular case, the medical reason for my prescription is Chronic Lumbalgia, which is generally defined as Chronic Lower Back Pain. This is, technically, a disqualifying condition as stated in the DOD Instruction 6130.03 under Section 5.6 Spine and Sacroiliac Conditions:
b. History of any condition, in the last 2 years, or any recurrence, including but not limited to the spine or sacroiliac joints, with or without objective signs, if:
(1) It prevents the individual from successfully following a physically active avocation in civilian life, or is associated with local or radicular pain, muscular spasms, postural deformities, or limitation in motion;
(2) It requires external support;
(3) It requires limitation of physical activity or frequent treatment; or
(4) It requires the applicant to use medication for more than 6 weeks.
(5) It causes one or more episodes of back pain lasting greater than 6 weeks requiring treatment other than self-care.
Please note that I will be graduating in 2020 and will have had 2 years of not documented recurrence of my ‘chronic lumbalgia’.
In my opinion, there are three primary solutions to my problem that would enable me to enlist in the Air Force:
- I can be completely transparent about my reasoning for obtaining the Medical Marijuana Card and my usage and hope that for some reason the board (or whatever governance committee presides over matters like this) will understand. Since I have stopped using Medical Marijuana and will be able to prove that I do not suffer from Chronic Lumbalgia anymore (since I never actually did, nor did I receive an actual diagnosis from my primary physician), I believe that I could request a waiver for my “medical condition”.
- I can lie about the Medical Marijuana Card and simply state that I have used Marijuana in the past. I would like to avoid this option because I am unsure if any future background checks would be able to access the State Medical Marijuana Registry. But on the other hand, I could avoid a great deal of extra work and uncertainty. (If anyone has expertise about enlisting with a Med Card or has heard of anyone doing it please let me know more about your experience).
- I can totally lie about my Marijuana use in the past and hope that it will not come up in any type of background check. I would honestly consider this but since there is Medical Documentation of my use, I do not believe that is a good idea, also not a morally sound choice but if it is for the greater good you know who cares.
If anyone can provide a second opinion or answer some of the following questions that would be greatly appreciated:
Is a Medical Marijuana Card on your permanent medical record?
Do Single Scope Background Investigations subpena Medical Marijuana Registries?
Is it rare to get a waiver for a medical disqualification?
Is it rare to get into the Air Force with past marijuana use?
Are your career option limited if you have a waiver or a history of Marijuana use?
Is it impossible to lie about something like this?
Would it help to get a letter of recommendation from a Congressman, Governor, District Attorney, or Senator?
What are my best options?
Should I pursue other career paths?
For those of you who take the time to read this, I hope you understand the sincerity of this post. I have truly been making attempts to live an ethical and morally right life. I was not a boy scout kid who never smoked or drank in my younger years, but I am now a man who want to serve his country and advance my career goals. I did not truly understand the implications and limitations of my decisions, as I had no idea I would want to lead a life of military service until a few months ago. On one hand I 100% want to try to pursue a career as an Airmen, but I realize that this may have an incredibly negative implication on my ability to progress my career, what careers I can choose from, etc. The final question is: should I devote myself to becoming a competitive candidate despite my obvious disadvantage?
Thank you for your time,
A Concerned Student