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The military and marijuana: a murky issue, to say the least

A recent media article points to the great division between the American military’s harsh and uncompromising policy toward servicemembers’ marijuana use and “the changing tide of both law and public perception.”

Truly, it’s a murky picture.

Consider this hypothetical and question. You’re an active duty member in a state that has legalized the use of recreational marijuana. You go off base and indulge. Are military authorities going to be on board with that? Or, alternatively, has your career just gone up in smoke?

Here’s another scenario. You are a military reservist in a state where medical marijuana has been legalized. Your spouse has state approval to use pot for a medical illness and smokes -- off base -- at home. You inhale second-hand smoke and test positive for marijuana use. What’s the outcome?

There are many more provocative fact patterns that can emerge when it comes to military members and marijuana use, with the subject having the ready potential to bring disciplinary-related outcomes and serious legal problems.

For starters, and as noted in a recent article discussing the military and marijuana use, military authorities quite clearly convey that servicemembers -- active duty or otherwise -- are governed by federal laws and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Pot use is illegal under both those legal platforms, with authorities noting that they don’t care a whit what state law provides for.

Many young and impressionable military members might get the gist of that, but still remain confused by the juxtaposition of military law with the far more lenient and evolving provisions in states where they serve. Medicinal marijuana is legal in many states, and the recent approval of recreational pot use by voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., clearly evidences a liberalized and growing trend across the country.

Military members absolutely need to be aware of conflicts between military and civilian law and understand that pot use under any circumstances in the military could bring dire consequences for their careers and freedom.

A proven military defense attorney can speak to those concerns and provide diligent legal representation to any servicemember facing marijuana-related punishment.

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