The Air Force anticipated only 50 cases annually when it announced a new pilot program last year that would allow some applicants who drug-tested positive for THC, the active compound in marijuana, a chance to retest and possibly enlist.
But the Air Force Recruiting Service told Military.com on Tuesday that, within the first year of the program, the service encountered triple that number — granting 165 waivers after candidates retested and were shown to be free of THC.
That news comes as the Air Force attempts to remove barriers to service after missing its active-duty enlisted recruiting goals for the past fiscal year, which ended Sunday, by roughly 11%. It's the first time since 1999 the service hadn't reached its projected numbers.
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Gen. Christopher Amrhein, the Air Force Recruiting Service commander, said during a media roundtable at the Air and Space Force Association's conference at National Harbor, Maryland, last month that the recruiting situation could have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the policy changes, such as the THC waiver, they had put in place prior to the end of the fiscal year.
“Let's make no mistake, drug usage has absolutely no place in our Air and Space Forces,” Amrhein told reporters. “But allowing a second test in the recruiting process is the right thing to do. For FY23, this policy change…