I guess a post on Army regulations, both punitive and non-punitive would be a stand alone subject. But for now, I just want to highlight how the regulations that govern virtually every aspect of Army life can lead to absurdities.

Army Regulation 600-85, The Army Substance Abuse Program governs drug use in the Army. For now, all you really need to know is, marijuana use is prohibited. Not just smoking it, but ingesting or otherwise using any hemp related product.

I’m fully on board with the goal of AR 600-85. If you use drugs in the Army, I want you to get caught, get punished, and get tossed out.

But sometimes, the bureaucratic nature of large organizations like the Army leads to regulatory absurdities.  For instance, while stressing the adverse effects of drug use, the Army’s first instinct in treating virtually any physiological problem a soldier has is… medication with mood altering drugs.

Then there’s this. Purgatory brand vodka is perfectly legal. I’ve never tried it, or looked for it, but there’s no law against selling it. Heck, the Army/Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) carried it for a while. But since Purgatory is made from hemp seed (and even though it contains no THC), soldiers are prohibited by AR 600-85 from consuming it, even off base.

Theoretically, if you, a young soldier, went to Moe’s Tavern in downtown Springfield, and ordered a couple vodka rocks, and Moe served you Purgatory, some really uptight senior could jack you up.


I get that part of the Army’s goal here is to avoid the “I didn’t know” defense, where a soldier would claim that they didn’t realize whatever they ingested contained THC, causing a positive urinalysis result. But given the lack of THC in the product, it’s a moot point.

I suppose the reg even prevents a soldier from wearing a shirt or pants made from hemp.

I just wonder if they realize it also covers using manila lines on Army watercraft.