With Washington State on the verge of opening its first recreational marijuana stores in the coming months, US military members have been warned not to patronize legal weed shops. As cannabis remains completely outlawed by the federal government, cadets and high-ranking officers alike caught with weed face criminal charges as well as career-ending discipline.
Lt. General Stephen Lanza, senior Army officer at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is located just outside of Tacoma, WA, explained, “From our perspective, marijuana or any type of illegal drug is something that’s not tolerated.”
Non-active duty service members are likewise prohibited from smoking pot – in 2012, after Washington voters legalized recreational weed, the state’s National Guard commander Major General Bret Daugherty issued a memo clarifying that the law does not exempt soldiers and airmen from the federal ban of pot possession and use – including medicinal cannabis.
Less than two percent of all personnel at Lewis-McChord tested positive for pot in recent years. In 2013, a total of 86,956 urinalysis tests were given to soldiers and staff (meaning each were tested twice that year) and only 396 turned up positive for pot.
Still, on Friday weekend briefings at the base, soldiers are reminded by their superiors not to risk their careers and benefits by using marijuana, regardless of its legality for the rest of us.