Gay and Marijuana in the Military: Same difference?
Is marijuana the next DADT? The increasing (state) legality of the otherwise (federally) illegal drug indicates a growing trend of “normalizing” marijuana usage, and it is not going unnoticed by the military.
An official Air Force news release at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, notes marijuana is “not welcome here,” despite its sometimes legality in the surrounding state.
Schriever commander Colonel Wayne Montheith wrote a memo noting, among other points,
Marijuana, prescribed or otherwise obtained, may not be used, possessed, distributed, nor introduced on Schriever AFB, a Federal military [installation].
The presence of marijuana on Schriever AFB [is] a risk to good order and discipline and to the Air Force mission.
The policy applies to any person on Schriever, including civilians — who could be banned from the base for bringing even state-approved marijuana with them.
In a similar vein to the federalist treatment of homosexual marriage, several states have legalized “medicinal” marijuana, even while federal law prohibits it. (California recently rejected — by a small margin — a law to legalize marijuana outright.) Like the claim homosexuality is a “private” matter, some claim marijuana use is no worse than alcohol, and thus irrelevant to the military mission.
So long as a troop isn’t high or drunk on duty, is what they do at home “nobody’s business?” Surveys indicate in the last 15 years the percentage of Americans supporting legalization has nearly doubled to an almost even split with the opposition. The current Administration (while opposing California’s legalization measure) has declined to enforce federal law against state-authorized “medicinal” marijuana use. With growing acceptance and “evidence” of the benign nature of marijuana, why should the military continue to enforce an antiquated policy based only on moral/religious underpinnings?
For now, military members are still prohibited by the UCMJ from using marijuana as a controlled substance, and civilians cannot bring it onto military installations. That may yet change.
After all, it will likely only be a matter of time before organizations begin advocating for the rights of marijuana users who want to serve their country openly, rather than hide their (legal) drug use. They will passionately plea that for the “integrity” of the troops, marijuana use must be permitted in the military, so American military servicemembers are not forced to “live a lie.” Reports will be “leaked” saying there is little risk to the military’s mission effectiveness from marijuana use. Some may demand the military institute “Don’t Ask, Don’t Pee,” to prevent “legal” users of marijuana from being caught in urinalysis and discharged.
They will note American troops have been working, fighting, and dying alongside marijuana users all along. Marijuana users will have served nobly, even winning accolades. Lists will show the vital skills lost to the ongoing wars — linguists, intel analysts, and more — which impact “national security” because of the otherwise legal use of marijuana. (Currently, drug offenses of all kinds account for more than 6 times as many discharges as homosexuality.)
They’ll note that when the bullets start flying, troops don’t care that their wingman smoked marijuana — “so long as he doesn’t fly high, he should be able to Aim High.” Anonymous users will note their lifelong desire to serve their country, and how they now “proudly serve a nation that isn’t proud of them.” Critics may even claim America is denying its self-sacrificing combat veterans a key aid in the fight against PTSD and suicide.
With all that “evidence,” what sustainable argument — what moral argument — is there against legalizing marijuana?
At best, those who oppose legalizing the drug will be greeted with a collective clucking and a condescending view of their “old fashioned” values. More likely, they will be called “bigots” for their “intolerance” of those who just want to serve their country and occasionally smoke a joint.
Again, what is the moral basis for the law on marijuana? Well, in just a few years, people will
look back on this debate with the same sentiment as any other civil rights debate in history; with awe. How did we deny marijuana-using Americans so many fundamental rights in the year 2010? Relax right wing America…the demographics of this nation will soon change so dramatically that you will have no choice but to tolerate rather than hate.
The increasingly popular answer to the moral basis for laws and military policies?
Demographics. Ever-changing surveys and sentiment dictate “right” and “wrong.”