Are you currently in the military and either using cannabis recreationally or for medicinal reasons and want to know what happens if you get caught with weed on a base?
With the rollout of more and more states legalizing cannabis and softening their stance on it, it’s a question that is going to come up more frequently. Cannabis is more readily available, and more people are starting to use it.
The hard fact, however, is that it’s not legal to carry weed, pot, cannabis, marijuana, or whatever you want to call the drug onto federal land. Of course, all military bases are on federal land.
With that in mind, if you want to know more about the laws regarding possession of cannabis while in the military, here are some facts about weed possession while on a military base and the potential penalties for having it.
What if you’re in a state where cannabis is legal?
Cannabis is legal for recreational use in several states, including California, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and a few others. It’s also legal for medical use in many states, so the reasons why someone would be in possession of cannabis are always growing.
This doesn’t help your case if you’re caught with cannabis on your person, vehicle, or in your personal possessions while on a military base. At the federal level, the possession of cannabis is still a criminal offense. The same goes for your presence on any other federal land, for that matter. As an active duty military member, your best bet is to abstain from illegal drugs altogether.
What are the possible punishments for cannabis possession while on base?
Because bases are on federal land, you will be charged under federal law for the possession of cannabis, or any other drug for that matter.
For first offenses, perpetrators receive a misdemeanor charge. The punishment can range from receiving a ticket for a fine up to $1,000, or even some time behind bars.
For second and third-time violators, you can receive felony charges. This carries much harsher sentencing, with possible fines up to $5,000- and 1-3-year’s jail time.
It pretty much goes without saying that the military can discharge you for your conduct. All branches of the military in the US have a zero-tolerance policy on drug use and possession.
Your superiors and the military court evaluate each case on an individual basis, so it’s important to obtain a good, experienced lawyer with experience representing in military cases. The level of representation and defense your attorney brings can make a big difference in your sentencing.
Does the amount matter?
Yes, the amount of cannabis in your possession does matter. There are harsher sentences if they have reason to believe you had the intent to supply, sell, or traffic the drugs in your possession.
Do you get tested and searched for drugs in the military?
If you have been carrying weed on base but no one has ever caught you, you’ve been very lucky. However, that luck is going to run out when you get tested if you’ve been using.
All active service members must provide a urine sample for urinalysis at least once a year to prove they are drug-free. There is also the possibility of a random drug test at any time, as well as deliberate testing if a commanding officer thinks there is probable cause to test you.
In addition, you can have your person, vehicle, or personal possessions searched for the same reasons. Because security is such a high priority on military bases, they carry out random searches regularly. Remember, if a commanding officer thinks there is probable cause to search you, they can do so at any time.
They will ask for your permission, but it’s a no-win situation. If you say “yes” and they find weed, consequences are to follow. If you say “no,” they are going to take you into custody and assume that you have something to hide.
What does all this mean?
Ultimately, if someone catches you with weed while on a military base, you will face the appropriate consequences. It doesn’t matter what state you’re in or how much you have in your possession, it’s against the law while on federal property.
What happens now?
If you are an active duty servicemember allegedly caught with weed on a base, you must seek out legal representation immediately. The Law Office of John L. Calcagni III has experience defending military personnel. From court-martial defense to criminal investigations and appeals, our team is ready to assist you. Because members of the armed forces must adhere to different laws than civilians, it is important to speak to an attorney with knowledge of military law. Speak to a member of our legal team by dialing (401) 351-5100 today.