While many use medicinal marijuana to help manage symptoms from a variety of illnesses and conditions, one must double-check before using it to cure diseases as it could cost one their job, as well as reputation.
This is exactly what happened to a Vietnam War veteran, Henry Cobbs, who was forced out of his job for using a cannabis derivative to treat his cancer, per Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The 77-year-old veteran retired in 1983 as an Air Force captain and holds two master’s degrees and a PhD. After retiring from his military services, he joined the world of academia and had been serving as the dean of academics at the Air Force Special Operations School (AFSOS), at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach, since 2009.
Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a rare form of prostate cancer and sought different treatments before resorting to the use of cannabidiol (CBD oil), which was prescribed to him by an Alabama-based physician in 2017.
Since then, he has been inhaling the oil with the help of an electronic cigarette (or vape), per a report by the Northwest Florida Daily News.
CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the substance known to cause the psychoactive effects — the “high” felt from cannabis – but Cobbs received a termination letter from AFSOS citing the use of “Schedule 1 Controlled Substance”.
Schedule 1 drugs do not hold any medical value and have a high potential for abuse. Therefore, according to the federal law, they cannot be prescribed and are considered illegal.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune report, Cobbs appealed against the school’s termination decision, but it was rejected. After his termination, the veteran said that he will take the matter to court because the substance was prescribed to him by a physician.
Cobbs is taking legal action in the light of President Ronald Reagan’s Drug-Free Federal Workplace Executive Order (12564), according to which, “the term ‘illegal drugs’ does not mean the use of a controlled substance pursuant to a valid prescription or other uses authorized by law,” the report cited.
CBD is widely available across the United States and has been called a “rapidly rising star for its capacity to deliver mental and physical benefits”, per a Quartz article. Many states in the U.S. have legalized CBD, but it is still considered illegal by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told WHTR in an interview, that there is a lot of confusion regarding the legal status of CBD, primarily caused by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (better known as the “Farm Bill”). The bill is widely used as a legal justification by CBD manufactures, sellers and users, but the DEA only considers CBD-related research as legitimate — the sale of CBD is another matter.
“It’s not legal. It’s just not,” he said of CBD.