Service members should stay vigilant in areas where recreational, medicinal marijuana is legalized

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Florida voters approved an amendment to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, Nov. 8, 2016. The amendment went into effect Jan. 3.

While service members don’t have direct access to medicinal marijuana dispensaries, the rise of marijuana legalization laws throughout the United States means a greater risk of potential contact with the substance. Currently, local dispensaries only distribute marijuana derivative products such as oils, creams and vapes.

"Knowing that there are marijuana products available in the local area, such as topical creams, oils and vape pens, it is important for military members to be aware of their surroundings and cautious about what they are putting in their body," said Capt. Kaci Young, an assistant staff judge advocate with the 1st Special Operations Wing Judge Advocate Office.

Service members are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Title 10 of the United States Code, which consider marijuana use or possession to be a crime regardless of state laws.

Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states, "Any person subject to this chapter who wrongfully uses, possesses, manufactures, distributes, imports into the customs territory of the United States, exports from the United States, or introduces into an installation, vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by or under the control of the armed forces a substance described in subsection (b) shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

The substances listed in subsection (b) are the following: opium, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, barbituric acid, and marijuana, and any compound or derivative of any such substance. It is also illegal to consume any substance not specifically listed in the UCMJ but otherwise illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

Though spouses and family members are not subject to the UCMJ, Air Commandos should stay vigilant in knowing if their spouses or family members are in possession of marijuana.

"This can become tricky as it relates to civilian dependents on a military installation," said Young. "Even though a civilian dependent may be legally in possession of medical marijuana under state law, they are still prohibited from bringing it onto a military installation under federal law. Any civilian who is caught with marijuana on a military installation can be barred from that installation by the installation commander and potentially face federal prosecution."

For more general information on this or other Articles of the UCMJ, call the 1st Special Operations Wing Judge Advocate at 884-7821. If you have been charged with an offense under the UCMJ, call the local Area Defense Counsel (ADC) 884-5216.