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The military and marijuana: a strong warning to service members

As evidenced by numerous polls and legislative action taken in many states, there is a clear uptick in the number of Americans nationally who now favor legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use.

A number of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to legalize medical marijuana, and voters in Colorado and Washington recently passed legislation making the possession and use of recreational marijuana (up to a specified amount) legal in those states. A number of other states are now also considering pot legalization or decriminalization.

If that constitutes a national party of sorts, the nation's military members are definitely not in attendance.

At least not legally, given the military's hard stance and strict taboo against marijuana use. Pot possession in any amount, or use to any degree, is viewed as criminal conduct under both federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and military officials don't mince words when they raise the topic with troops.

"From our perspective, marijuana ... is something that's not tolerated," says a senior Army officer in Washington state.

The restriction against marijuana applies to both active-duty service members and their National Guard counterparts, with a high-level memo stating that, "All soldiers and airmen are hereby ordered not to possess or use marijuana at any time."

Those who do and are caught -- the Army conducts urinalysis tests to enforce federal law -- are dealt with harshly, with one recent media article noting that a positive test result brings an automatic disciplinary process and potential dismissal from service. A bad conduct discharge can have lifelong adverse consequences for a military member who is booted out of the service.

The application of military law can be harsh and uncompromising for any service member who is facing criminal charges. It is important for any accused person to secure strong representation from an experienced military defense attorney fully focused on the best possible outcome in every case.

Source: ABC 10 News, "Military service members face criminal charges, career-ending discipline if caught with marijuana," Associated Press, March 26, 2014

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