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Will marijuana accidental ingestion get me discharged from the military, or would I get a waiver?

Manchester, MA |

I haven't actually enlisted yet. When I was 18 I had an accidental ingestion incident with marijuana and is on my medical records. I have been informed that it is not a big deal, and the military probably would not look into it if I said nothing. I know there are consequences for lying that I do not wish to face though. Would I get a waiver? I've never used any drugs before besides that accident, and have nothing else on my record/no criminal record whatsoever. Also, what are consequences if caught lying?

EDIT: I am in ROTC, but have not contracted nor done DoDMERB appointments; I'm have no official anything with the Army. I forgot about this when they asked about marijuana use, just out of excitement and the fact that it wasn't like experimenting or any intentional "use" per say.

Attorney Answers 4

    1. You are going to sign paperwork when you enlist where you affirm the truth of the matters on the documents.
    2. Included in those documents are statements about drug usage. Drug usage is important to the military because in the late1970's after a rash of aviation related deaths (in particular at sea on aircraft carriers) it was discovered that large percentages of flight deck crewmen involved in the accidents had THC in their systems. The THC dulled response times, relaxed attitudes---the result was catastrophic.
    3. In addition to the forms you will sign, your recruiter is going to ask you--no, he or she is going to tell you to write down any drug usage in your past. They expect you to be forthcoming with the truth--not hiding behind lies.
    4. When you go to the Military Entrance Processing Station to swear in, you will be questioned again about drug usage.
    5. When you arrive at boot camp, you're going to be questioned again, your urine sample will be taken, and you will be under such particular pressure, tired, lonely, scared that when you are questioned closely, you WILL cough up any information you did not previously disclose.
    6. You will be investigated at some point during your first months in the military--if a discrepancy is noted between what you reported and what the government finds through other means--YOU will be held responsible. If at that time you are still in boot camp you will be separated. If you have gotten through boot camp and you're at a follow on school (training)you MIGHT be court-martialed for a fraudulent enlistment. That would be bad...know why? Because use of MJ, when truthfully disclosed as part of the application process is NOT going to keep you out of the military! All that trouble for something that was not a show stopper.

    You were smart to ask, now follow up by being smart to reveal all your warts to your recruiter. He/she will know what to do, what waivers are required and how to move ahead.

    Best of luck to you.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

  2. Marijuana use, especially experimental use, prior to service is generally not a big deal provided there are no criminal charges associated with it. You should honestly (I stress this word) discuss this with your recruiter. It will likely have no impact if you are honest. There are questions on your application that will require you to answer whether you have ever used marijuana. The consequences of lying on your recruiting documents will expose you to criminal penalties for fraudulent enlistment and involuntary discharge with less than an honorable discharge. It's much better to be honest about it. Remember, the military highly values integrity. Even if you were disqualified, which you won't be for mere marijuana use, never serving is better than a criminal conviction or less than an honorable discharge. By the way, saying your use is "accidental" is like saying you didn't inhale. While it's possible, it will be viewed very skeptically.

    Law Office of Stephen P. Kelly (508) 983-1479--Criminal Defense, Military Law, Divorce & Family Law, Appeals. DISCLAIMER: Answers to posted questions are for general interest only and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by virtue of any answer posted by the attorney.

  3. Just a few things to add from what my colleagues have already posted...

    1. UCMJ does not have juridiction over ROTC
    2. If there is no criminal conviction then you will be fine, but the recruiter will ultimately decide whether they will submit your package with the accidental ingestion. it sounds like you were never even charged...
    3. You are in the middle of a draw down of troop levels, so recruiters are being overly picky.

    Good Luck.

  4. If you are truly the caliber person the military needs, you do not need to read further because you already know the correct answer. You need to disclose this fully. If the ingestion was innocent, as you say, you have nothing to worry about. You will have much bigger problems if the military later discovers this, and you did not disclose it.

    On the off chance that you honestly disclose this and the military limits your options, then it was not meant to be. You will always have your integrity.

    Best regards.

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