California has become the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana. But using the drug can still end a military career.
Steve Walsh reports that marijuana remains off-limits to service members, even in states where it’s now legal.
Since California legalized recreational marijuana January 1, crowds of customers have swarmed several of the state’s approximately ninety dispensaries.
“You can see the people who walk in the door,” said Will Senn, the owner of Urban Leaf in San Diego. “It’s your next door neighbor. It’s your aunt. It’s your grandmother.”
California now allows people 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow six plants at home. But despite the new more permissive laws in California and other states, marijuana still is banned for members of the armed services. They’re subject to a zero-tolerance policy.
With few exceptions, being caught with marijuana or its ingredient THC in your bloodstream puts a service member at risk for discharge.
“If you want to be Secretary of the Navy, if you want to make a career out of this endeavor, you cannot smoke marijuana,” said Jeff Carver, an San Diego attorney and retired Navy JAG officer. He defends service members who fail drug tests.
“You cannot eat marijuana brownies, and you probably can’t hang out with your friends if they’re smoking marijuana,” Carver said.
The military has a long history of grappling with marijuana. A 1973 Pentagon study found that nearly seventy percent of soldiers returning from Vietnam had