No such thing as legal marijuana for soldiers and sailors

With the recent passage of Initiative 502, the use of marijuana is legal in Washington for both medicinal and recreational purposes, but under no circumstances is pot use or possession legal for members of the U.S. Armed Services. “The use of marijuana is illegal under federal law and Department of Defense policy,” Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty wrote in a December 2012 memo. “The passage of Initiative 502 does not change that.”

Marijuana is not allowed on a military base, even if it is for medicinal purposes. As far as the military is concerned, there is no such thing as medical marijuana. Last year alone, Joint base Lewis-McChord carried out 86,956 urinalysis tests to enforce federal law, which is approximately 2 tests per service member per year. The tests are random and apply to anyone in the service. A positive result automatically triggers a disciplinary process that could ultimately result in dishonorable discharge.

Members of the military, including the Navy, are subject to federal law. When state law conflicts with federal law, the federal law takes precedence.

For questions about Washington’s legalization of marijuana and how the new rules apply, or if you are facing a related legal issue, contact Tim Chiang-Lin at:

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