Military News

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

UCMJ remains strict on drugs

by Airman 1st Class Sam Fogleman
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


8/13/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- With the successes of Initiative 502 in Washington state and Amendment 64 in Colorado last November, the legal framework of drug use has become decisively more lax.

However malleable the legal status of marijuana and other drugs becomes for civilians, the Uniform Code of Military Justice has not shifted at all.

"Airmen are always subject to duty and we agree to live by a set of military rules and standards," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "One of those standards is remaining drug-free. As such, illegal drug use will not be tolerated and that message must ring loud and clear, far and wide, despite local state laws that may suggest differently."

The UCMJ remains firm, prosecuting drug crimes without exception.

According to Article 112a of the UCMJ, a controlled substance is any substance listed in Schedules I through V of the Controlled Substances Act. This includes substances ranging from heroin to cough suppressants containing codeine. Military members are expressly prohibited from using any intoxicating substance (with the exclusion of the lawful use of alcohol or tobacco) for the purpose of altering mood or function.

"To put that in perspective, let's say Airman #1 has a sore back and Airman #2 has some prescription pain medication," said Capt. Lisa Wotkowicz, Area Defense Counsel. "Airman #2 gives Airman #1 one of his pills and Airman #2 takes the pill. The result: both Airmen face the prospect of court martial and administrative separation."

Members found to have used such substances face a general discharge, or worse. The wrongful use of prohibited substances can lead to criminal prosecution, which may result in severe consequences to the member.

The maximum punishment at a general court martial for wrongful use of a Schedule I, II or III substance is five years confinement, reduction to E-1, total forfeitures and a dishonorable discharge. The maximum punishment at a general court martial for wrongful distribution of a Schedule I, II or III substance is 15 years confinement, reduction to E-1, total forfeitures and a dishonorable discharge. Members who receive these downgraded types of service characterizations may lose some or all of their military benefits, to include their GI Bill.

"Illegal drug use is absolutely incompatible with our core values and military service," Newberry said.

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