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Recreational use of marijuana OK in DC, but still forbidden by USMC

30 Mar 2015 | John Hollis Marine Corps Base Quantico

Recreational use of marijuana is no longer forbidden in the nation’s capital, but it remains a punishable offense within the U.S. Marine Corps.

Officials aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico remind service members marijuana remains off limits following Washington, D.C. becoming the latest locale to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

The new District statute went into effect in late February after being overwhelmingly passed by voters in a November referendum. But Jacqueline Williams, program director for the Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center in Quantico, says nothing has changed for Marines.

“Legal in D.C.,” she said. “Still not legal in the Corps.”

Williams said she has heard of some talk among Marines wondering if the new law in D.C. applied to them as well and has moved to quickly dispel any such myths. Marijuana use remains prohibited among service members.

“It’s still not legal in the Corps,” she said.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing marijuana is some form. The states of Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Colorado are the only four states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana, although that number is expected to climb. Colorado and Washington were the first to enact such legislation when they did so in 2012.

Perhaps as a result of the recent trend, there appears to be an increase in drug testing of Marines by their commanding officers, Williams said.

Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice remains unchanged, clearly saying that it is a court martial offense to use, possess, grow, manufacture or distribute marijuana. That  includes while on base, in base housing or in any “vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by or under the control of the armed forces.”

Service members, their families and federal employees in need of a substance abuse assessment or treatment services can reach the Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center at 703-784-3502.

— Writer: jhollis@quanticosentryonline.com