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Marijuana still illegal for Airmen despite local availability

As state recreational and medical marijuana laws change throughout the country, officials remind Airmen that any marijuana use or possession by uniformed service members is still illegal under federal law. And the consequences for breaking this law could be career ending. (Courtesy photo)

As state recreational and medical marijuana laws change throughout the country, officials remind Airmen that any marijuana use or possession by uniformed service members is still illegal under federal law. And the consequences for breaking this law could be career ending. (Courtesy photo)

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- As you may have heard, marijuana recently became legal to purchase and consume under Massachusetts state law.

That said, it’s still illegal under federal law all across the country. As communities and law enforcement officials work through the questions that have been raised in states that have voted in these new laws, military members should know that there is no debate regarding marijuana use for those serving in uniform.

Marijuana consumption is not permitted in any fashion, period.

As members of the United States military we are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which places specific standards of conduct on Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. In Article 112A of the UCMJ it states that anyone who wrongfully uses, possesses, manufactures or distributes any controlled substances including marijuana or any of its compounds or derivatives will be “punished as a court-martial may direct.” That includes all cannabinoid derivatives, including products infused with Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, more commonly known as THC.

On November 19, 2018 the first retail marijuana shops opened for business in Massachusetts. Due to the new commercial availability of THC containing products, military members need to be extra vigilant about the foods and drinks they consume, especially during the holiday season. Many of us attend parties or gatherings with friends and relatives and have meals and libations prepared by others.

With the recent change to Massachusetts state law, some food and drink products are now being sold with THC intentionally added to them. In fact, THC could potentially be lurking in almost any kind of food item. THC infused products currently on the market include items like candy, spaghetti sauce, chips, carbonated beverages and an assortment of baked goods. These products are being marketed as “edibles” and contain enough THC to cause a military member to fail a drug screen urinalysis.

It doesn’t matter if you’re off duty, working under Title 32, Title 10 or as a traditional guardsman. If you test positive for illicit drugs, no matter your status, you will jeopardize your security clearance and face disciplinary actions including likely separation from the military under less than honorable conditions. Additionally, all civilian employees of the federal government are also prohibited from any illegal drug use under federal law as a condition of their employment.

The bottom line is, with the increased availability of marijuana and the introduction of THC infused products to the marketplace in Massachusetts and other states, it’s more important than ever to be aware of everything you put into your body.

Your friend’s grandma’s miracle sticky buns might look mighty tasty and get rave reviews at the big shindig, but if you're in the military or work for the federal government you might want to think twice and make sure they weren’t made to treat her bad hip first before you jeopardize your career.
Air Force Medicine


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