News: Colorado, Washington pass marijuana laws, still illegal in Marine Corps
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian Stevens
IWAKUNI, Japan - At the conclusion of the election, Colorado and Washington made history by passing laws allowing the first recreational use of marijuana in America since its prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s.
However, Marines still fall under the zero tolerance policy of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
Amendment 64 to Colorado’s state constitution and Initiative 502 in Washington passed by popular vote in both states. Colorado's decision surprised some critics because of split polls going into the election and Governor John Hickenlooper's vocal disdain for the law.
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we have intent to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Gold Fish too quickly,” said Hickenlooper in a statement on Nov. 6, 2012, after the approval of Amendment 64. Marine Administrative Message 579/10 states, “We have seen an increase of Marines and sailors using substances to 'get high,' i.e. to induce intoxication, excitement or stupefaction of their central nervous system.”
The MARADMIN goes on to state: “Many of these substances are not illegal under federal or state laws and they are easily obtained. Legal or not, they are reported to have harmful physical effects similar to those produced by illegal or controlled substances. Abuse of these substances, and others like them, pose a significant danger to affect the efficiency, discipline and good order of the Marine units.”
Currently, 17 states allow the use of Marijuana for medical or recreational use. Even though these states allow use, servicemembers are still subject to punishment if caught using any drugs with the intent to get high. UCMJ Article 112 a wrongful use, possession, etc. of controlled substances directly addresses marijuana, and the Navy and Marine Corps have been randomly testing for synthetic cannabinoids like Spice since April.
The MARADMIN goes on to encourage leaders to inform their Marines about the harmful effects that abusing these substances can cause and punishment for use.
“A violation of these prohibitions will be punishable as failure to obey a lawful general order under article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.”
The order concludes by stating, “Leaders must educate their Marines and sailors about the dangers posed by the abuse of such substances and make it clear that such conduct will not be tolerated.”