There have been some qualms regarding military members’ cannabis usage in weed legal states. While the military has been reluctant to allow their soldiers to consume legal cannabis, it apparently hasn’t stopped many of them from doing so — particularly, members of the Army. And according to a recent report, soldiers in recreational marijuana states test positive for THC far more often than those in non-legal states.
An Uptick in Soldiers in Recreational Marijuana States Test Positive for THC
A report from Army Crime Report for Fiscal Year 2018, obtained by Task and Purpose, reported an 18% uptick of THC usage by members of the army in weed-legal states.
The study focuses on nine military bases in recreational states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The results determined that between 2017 and 2018, Army soldiers were far more likely to smoke weed in decriminalized states.
“Ready access, social acceptance, and removal of the barrier of locating and working with a ‘drug dealer’ is having an impact on Army law enforcement,” the report noted.
The increase wasn’t only limited to legal marijuana states, however — there was an overall 5% increase in soldiers testing positive for tetrahydrocannabinol over the fiscal year.
“Current data suggests that decriminalization and legalization of marijuana may be beginning to show signs of impacting Army readiness, but the effects are not localized to the states where legalization has occurred,” the report concluded. Still, legal recreational states saw more than three times an increase than non-legal states in general.
Army Spokesperson Lt. Col. Manny Ortiz told Task and Purpose that the purpose of the report was to gather statistics and brief leaders on some of factors that might affect soldier readiness. Legal cannabis, obviously, was one such component.
“This internal document is a crime reduction tool which includes actionable recommendations to enhance good order and discipline through learning points, real-life vignette, and standardized crime statistics,” Ortiz said. “Commanders, senior leaders, and program managers can use these recommendations to focus their efforts on crime prevention that will assist them with preserving readiness in their organizations.”
While cannabis might be legal for recreational usage in the aforementioned states, the plant remains a Schedule I substance by Federal law. This would lead to disciplinary action from the military — a government-funded entity.
Marijuana and the Military
Other factions of the military— including the Coast Guard, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and not the DOJ like the Army— is similarly stringent in their cannabis policy.
“The culture in certain parts of the nation is shifting around marijuana … we want to be clear to the workforce in providing our expectation that consumption of marijuana is still prohibited,” Coast Guard Commander Matt Rooney Rooney told Military.com back in July.
Shannon McGuire, a counsel for the Air Force Ethics Office said last March that the Department of Justice will continue to look into marijuana’s potential role in the military.
“SOCO hopes to put out guidance soon,” McGuire said. “So please continue to stand by. I know there are a lot of emails floating around on this issue. Continue to have your legal offices hold off on certifying financial disclosures with marijuana-related holdings for the time being.”
The notion of marijuana in the armed forces, however, seems far off — at least for now.