November 09, 2021

Navigating CBD Shopping & Usage As A Veteran

Research suggests that CBD could help with certain health challenges that some military veterans experience. Unfortunately, there are several barriers between veterans and the benefits CBD may offer.

We asked a United States Navy Veteran (who we’ll call JT) about his experience getting started with CBD. He said, “I really had no idea what I was looking for when I got out of the navy and wanted to try CBD for my sleep problems. I’d spent months at a time on a ship for years. Back on base you obviously won’t find it at the NEX (Navy Exchange). There was just no exposure.”

If you relate to JT and don’t know where to turn for relevant CBD information as a veteran, you aren’t alone.

Why Many Vets Are Out Of Touch With CBD

Vets returning to civilian life today are stepping into a very different cannabis landscape than when they entered the military. CBD was only just federally legalized in 2018, and some states have recently legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.

Those who’ve been out of active duty status for some time may be equally uncertain about using anything related to cannabis and for good reason. A criminal conviction can affect your military benefits.

Additionally, there’s a lot of misinformation about CBD on the internet. This can make it hard to figure out who and what to trust.

CBD For Veterans: What Our Nation’s Heroes Should Know

After hearing about JT’s challenges, we created this no-nonsense guide to inform vets about recent CBD laws, research, and best practices for shopping for and using CBD. It covers all the basics so you can decide if CBD is right for you and shop for CBD with confidence.

What Is CBD, Exactly?

Let’s start with the basics. What is CBD?

The US Department of Defense has a strict zero-tolerance policy for drugs of any kind and classifies CBD as an illicit substance.(1) After years of lumping hemp and marijuana together in a “must be avoided” category, it makes sense that vets may not be up-to-date on what CBD is and how it differs from THC.

We’re here to set the record straight.

CBD is the shorthand name for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabinoids interact with the body and mind through the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Cannabis is a genus of plants that includes:

  • Marijuana, which is rich in THC and low in CBD.
  • Hemp, which is rich in CBD and low in THC.

Because of its high CBD concentrations and legal status (more on that in a moment), hemp is most often used for producing CBD products.

The CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, then formulated into edible and topical products or inhalants such as vape liquid.

CBD is not psychoactive. So, unlike THC, it isn’t intoxicating and won’t get you high.

CBD Is Legal — But Not All CBD Is Legal

Hemp with virtually no THC (no more than 0.3%) was legalized by the federal government through the 2018 Farm Bill. When grown according to USDA guidelines, this is known as industrial hemp.

It’s important to note that although industrial hemp is used to make most CBD products, marijuana is legal in some states. You could come across CBD products with higher THC concentrations in those states. Marijuana-derived CBD might be legal where you are, but it technically isn’t legal at the federal level.

We can’t provide you with legal advice, but we can tell you this: It’s very easy to obtain CBD in all 50 states.

CBD that’s legal from sea to shining sea is:

  • Made from industrial hemp, and either…
  • Broad-spectrum CBD, which contains beneficial plant compounds and ≤ 0.3% THC, or…
  • CBD isolate, which has been processed to remove all compounds except for CBD.

CBD that fits these criteria can be legally bought and sold in-person or online. You won’t get in trouble for possessing or using these products in the civilian world.

You may also come across full-spectrum CBD at local stores or on the internet. Full-spectrum CBD could be legal depending on what it’s made from and the THC content. But it could also contain higher-than-permitted levels of THC.

CBD May Help With Health Challenges

It’s no secret that pain management, sleep disturbances, stress, and other health concerns are more prominent among veterans. These ongoing challenges increase the risk of substance abuse and suicide.(2)

Thankfully, CBD research seems to have honed in on some of these more pressing issues, helping us understand how CBD may be able to help veterans. So far, we’re seeing promising results for:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder(3)
  • Pain and inflammation(4)
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances(5)
  • And more

Stay up to date with developments in CBD research under theCBD Health tab here on our blog.

Keep in mind that research is ongoing. You also shouldn’t replace your medication or other parts of your treatment plan with CBD. Which brings us to our next point…

Your Doctor May Have More Information

CBD is a safe and effective solution for most people, but certain medications and medical conditions can react negatively with CBD.

That’s why it’s important to inform your physician about your CBD use. And don’t worry — even if you have a VA healthcare provider, anything you tell them is protected under patient privacy laws, so there’s no risk of losing your benefits.

Essentially, telling your doctor about any substances you’re consuming helps them best plan your treatment.

What About Drug Testing For CBD?

The amount of THC in legal CBD oil is minuscule if it’s present at all. But that doesn’t mean these trace amounts are guaranteed to leave your system immediately.

Everyone processes CBD at a unique rate based on a number of factors including weight, metabolism, and more.

Unfortunately, drug tests aren’t smart enough to determine whether THC came from marijuana or a CBD product. This means the trace amounts of THC in broad-spectrum CBD could lead to a failed drug test.

CBD products with a higher concentration of THC, such as full-spectrum CBD, could also cause a failed test.

You might be concerned about drug testing if you’re being screened for drug use at work. If you’re wanting to avoid THC, here’s a good habit to start: Check out the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for all CBD products you purchase, which will list the THC contents.

The good news is that you won’t be denied VA benefits if you use marijuana or CBD.(6)

Of course, abstaining from use is also an option. It’s up to you to decide whether CBD is right for you.

Head toHow To Read A Certificate Of Analysis (COA) For Your CBD Products after this for a full rundown on COAs.

CBD Quality Matters

CBD quality can vary widely depending on how the hemp was grown, the ingredients used, and how it was made. Poor quality CBD could be less effective and less good for you.

Give your body the good stuff. Look for CBD that’s:

  • Derived from organically-cultivated hemp. Non-organic hemp cultivation can leave traces of synthetic fertilizers, heavy metals, and other toxins. Everything you don’t want in your CBD.
  • Made in the USA. There are high standards for hemp grown on domestic soil, and shopping stuff made here is good for our nation’s economy.
  • Third-party lab tested with the COA to prove it. The COA lists all the cannabinoids in the product, including the amount of CBD and THC, as found by a third-party lab. It should be available on the company’s website. (We share ours on the product pages.)
  • Highly bioavailable. This is a fancy way of saying highly absorbable and effective. Nano CBD is more bioavailable than regular CBD.

Keep this checklist in mind whether shopping for CBD online or at your local retailers.

CBD Is Versatile

There was a time when the odd CBD tincture might be all you’d find, but times have changed — a lot.

CBD products come in all shapes, sizes, and strengths.

When you’re just starting out, consider choosing a lower-strength product, like 600mg CBD oil drops. CBD drops can be taken under the tongue, or you can add them to drinks and smoothies. Post-workout protein CBD smoothie, anyone?

Once you acclimate by taking low doses for a few days or weeks, you might be able to bump up to 1000mg CBD oil drops or explore other products like CBD gummies and CBD softgels.

Topical CBD is another great option. Unlike products you eat, swallow, or smoke, topicals aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, they provide on-the-spot relief. Think your grandparents’ joint cream, but reinvented with some CBD added.

Between the many products, you can mix and match to create a CBD routine that’s well suited to your needs and preferences.

You’ve Got Well-Earned Military Discounts Waiting

Like many other retailers, some CBD vendors know how much military service members and their families sacrifice. As a small token of appreciation, you’re likely to find discounts on your CBD products.

When shopping in person, ask about military discounts.

Shopping for CBD online? Try searching “military discount” on the CBD retailer’s website for details. If you can’t find it, check the website footer (the menu at the very bottom of the webpage), or the FAQs page.

At Pure Craft, we wanted to make it easy for our nation’s heroes to securely access their CBD discounts online. We partnered with GovX to provide a military discount to current and former US military personnel, spouses, dependents, and first responders.

CBD Is Legal & Available To Veterans

The legalization of CBD has opened access for all adults wanting to try it, veterans included. Learning how to separate fact from fiction and spot quality CBD can help you tap into its benefits.

A wide variety of legal CBD products means you and your dependents can try CBD without worry. It’s easy to find CBD these days. You’ll likely be able to find a military discount, too.

When asked what he thinks vets should know about CBD, JT said, “It’s real. It’s available and accessible. And it might be able to help.”

If you’re a veteran or dependant, we hope this guide helps you feel confident about exploring the CBD options available to you.



  1. Buffett, P. (2021). Despite prevalence, CBD still illegal for DOD members. US Army.
  2. Olenick, M, et al. (2015). US veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness. Advances in medical education and practice.
  3. Rodriguez, I. (2021). Federal Study Finds Cannabis Beneficial for PTSD Treatment. Veterans of Foreign Wars.
  4. Cherney, K. (2021). Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does It Work? Healthline.
  5. Chahine, E. (2021). CBD as a Sleep Aid. Sleep Foundation.
  6. (2021). VA and Marijuana – What Veterans need to know. US Department of Veterans Affairs.

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