Is Military Spouse Pot Smoking a Bad Idea?

You could be high as a kite if you live in a place where marijuana is legal, and the military can do nothing about it. You're a civilian after all. But does it make your service member look bad?

That is the question one spouse asked on his blog last week after confessing that he has been smoking a lot of pot in an effort to treat his anxiety and weight issues. He said smoking pot recreationally, which is legal where they are stationed in Washington State, makes him more productive and helps soothe his mental health battles.

He worried, however, that using weed reflects poorly on his wife to the point that, were he found out by the command even though it is 100 percent legal, she could be punished.

Recreational marijuana use is legal for residents over 21-years-old in two states -- Colorado and Washington State. Medical marijuana is legal in an additional 19 states plus the District of Columbia. For service members, however, the drug is still illegal no matter what. It is also illegal to bring or smoke pot on base no matter where you are stationed or what the state laws are. And since it's possible to achieve a contact high through second hand smoke, officials have warned that service members need to steer clear of others who are using.

Several Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa. spouses we spoke with said they smoke pot legally off base without repercussion to their soldiers or airmen. They said their service member's commanders just don't care.

"In short, I [love] weed, and no it doesn't/hasn't/probably will never affect my husband's job," said Felicia Basham. "I don't smoke at home (we live on post) and I don't smoke around him. Mostly just for fun, but it works ton better than the prescription meds I'm prescribed."

In December, 2012 when marijuana became completely legal in Colorado and Washington State this story (warning: pay wall) investigated the reaction of military leaders to military spouse use. On JBLM, where Perry is also stationed, the Provost Marshal said spouse use raises "good order and discipline questions."

"I don't know that the command would try to influence the behavior of a military spouse who is a true civilian off of the installation, but certainly there is a concern for soldiers who are potentially around it. Whether they are using it or not, there are some good order and discipline concerns," Solonar said. "So [leaders] are really trying to think through ‘How do you address that?'"
So we checked back in with JBLM officials this week. How have leaders addressed the issue of spouses using pot off post?

Joe Piek, a spokesman for JBLM, said as far as officials there are concerned, legal spouse use off base is treated the same as any other legal civilian activity.

They also said spouse use hasn't translated into an increase in drug problems with soldiers. In fact, perhaps thanks to the increase in education spurred by off-post legalization, fewer soldiers than ever are testing positive for pot on JBLM, according to the post's provost marshal.

So what does this mean for military spouses who wish to legally use marijuana off base? According to Piek spouses get a green light and zero repercussions for them or their service members, so long as their service member does not participate and they stick to the base rules.

"For spouses it really comes down to if you go off base and you use it -- OK, but don't bring it on base, and don't be driving under the influence," said Joe Piek, a spokesman for JBLM.

That means that using shouldn't reflect any more poorly on your spouse than it would if you were legally consuming alcohol or tobacco.

What do you think?


Image courtesy of Flickr user Cragimmett under the Creative Commons license.

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