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Caution urged to service members after Colorado legalizes marijuana

On election day, the state of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana; however, its use is still against federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even for service members stationed in the state. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

On election day, the state of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana; however, its use is still against federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even for service members stationed in the state. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- On election day, the state of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana; however, its use is still against federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even for service members stationed in the state.

This should come as no surprise to military members as the use of narcotics, in or out of uniform, is illegal. For family members and civilians with access to the base, they need to remember one crucial fact if they do participate in recreational marijuana use -- marijuana is not allowed on Buckley or any other military base.

"Once they cross over that threshold and enter a federal installation, they are under our jurisdiction and will be prosecuted," stated 1st Lt. David Bruton, 460th Security Forces Squadron acting commander. "There is no give, no fine line; it's black and white."

There are many scenarios that could place an Airman in the crossfire when it comes to marijuana exposure, especially now that there may be increased usage by civilians within the state. Military members should be continuously cautious of their surroundings and know when they're at a house where the drug is present, be aware if marijuana is baked into food, or realize when they are in an establishment that allows recreational use of the drug. All of these situations are potential pitfalls a service member could fall into if not careful, but Bruton offers advice to Team Buckley to stay out of trouble.

"Play it smart and just stay away from it," explained the 460th SFS acting commander. "Be aware of your situations and who you hang out with, because it is usually that other person that gets you in trouble."

The passing of the new amendment will have no affect on the Drug Demand Reduction Program, and random drug testing will continue as scheduled to ensure individuals are in compliance with the UCMJ.

"Amendment 64 does not change the UCMJ," said Chief Master Sgt. William Ward, 460th Space Wing command chief. "If our members are engaging in the use of marijuana and are found out through random urinalyses or other investigative means, I would expect commanders to bring the full force of the UCMJ. Marijuana use immediately jeopardizes their continued service in the United States Air Force."

With a drug that is federally illegal, tested for regularly and ends military careers, the best option is to simply avoid marijuana.

"You're saving yourself a lot of trouble by just staying away from it all together," stated Capt. Eric McCutchen, 460th Space Wing Judge Advocate Office chief of military justice.
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