The state of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana Nov. 6, but its use is still against federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even for service members stationed in or visiting the state.
This should come as no surprise to military members. The use of narcotics, in or out of uniform, is illegal. For family members and civilians with access to the base, they need to remember one crucial fact if they do participate in recreational marijuana use — marijuana is not allowed on any military base.
“Once they cross over that threshold and enter a federal installation, they are under our jurisdiction and will be prosecuted,” said 1st Lt. David Bruton, 460th Security Forces Squadron acting commander. “There is no give, no fine line; it’s black and white.”
There are many scenarios that could place an Airman in the crossfire when it comes to marijuana exposure, especially now that use by civilians may increase in Colorado. Military members should continuously be cautious of their surroundings. If they’re at a house where the drug is present, be aware if marijuana is baked into food; know if an establishment they’re in allows recreational use of the drug. All of these situations are potential pitfalls for a service member, but Bruton offers advice to Airman to avoid trouble.
“Play it smart and just stay away from it,” explains the 460th SFS acting commander. “Be aware of your situations and who you hang out with, because it is usually that other person that gets you in trouble.”
Colorado’s new amendment has no affect on the Drug Demand Reduction Program and random drug testing will continue as scheduled to ensure individuals comply with the UCMJ.
“(Colorado’s) Amendment 64 does not change the UCMJ,” said Chief Master Sgt. William Ward, 460th Space Wing command chief. “If our members engage in the use of marijuana and are found out through random urinalysis or other investigative means, I would expect commanders to bring the full force of the UCMJ. Marijuana use immediately jeopardizes their continued service in the United States Air Force.”
With a drug that is federally illegal, tested regularly and ends military careers, the best option is to simply avoid marijuana.
“You’re saving yourself a lot of trouble by just staying away from it all together,” said Capt. Eric McCutchen, 460th Space Wing Judge Advocate Office chief of military justice.