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Despite California law, marijuana still illegal for military

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Following California’s recent decision to legalize recreational marijuana, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations wants to remind military members that marijuana possession, use and distribution are still illegal under federal law and any violation could be career ending. 

California’s Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, made it legal for individuals 21 years or older to possess and grow marijuana for personal use as of November 9, 2016.  That is the California state law. Air Force members serve under federal law, where marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance. Per Department of Defense Instruction 1010.4, “substance use is incompatible with readiness, the maintenance of high standards of performance, and military discipline.”

“We need to remind our military members that it is still illegal to use marijuana and such use may result in court martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and/or discharge under Air Force Instruction 36-3208,” said Col. David Western, 60th Air Mobility Wing Judge Advocate.

“Seventeen OSI investigations in 2016 involved the use, possession, and/or distribution of controlled substances from Travis Air Force Base Airmen,” said Special Agent Vanessa Galvan, AFOSI Detachment 303 commander.

The maximum punishment under the UCMJ for wrongful use of marijuana is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and five years confinement.

Marijuana use is illegal regardless of the circumstances behind the use.  Some military members believe they can use marijuana provided they have a valid prescription from a doctor, often known as a medical marijuana card.  However, the Air Force does not recognize medical marijuana, and any use of medical marijuana is still considered wrongful use for military members.

Airmen should also be cognizant of use or possession by spouses and friends, particularly when sponsoring them on base.  Military bases are federal property and, as such, subject to federal law.

"Visitors assume state law is applicable throughout the state,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Quinn, 60th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Although true in some instances, not the case when it comes to marijuana.  Marijuana is illegal on all federal installations even if the person has a medical marijuana card. When sponsoring visitors onto the installation, we rely on our base residents and work force to advise guests of this policy and facilitate compliance to the best of their ability."

Civilians who live on or visit Travis Air Force Base, California, may not have marijuana on their person or in the car. Introducing marijuana onto a military installation is a federal offense, even if the possession would be legal for him or her anywhere else under California law.

For more information or to report information of marijuana or other controlled substances, including prescription drug abuse, call the AFOSI at 707-424-6904.