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Do Not Put It In Your Mouth

So today’s advice is, do not put it in your mouth. My name’s Sean Mangan. I’m a retired Army lieutenant Colonel from the Jag Corps former military judge. I’m now an attorney with the Law Office of Jocelyn Stewart, where we help individual service members with their legal needs.

This is a little common sense advice, but I’m going to talk about why it’s legally significant because we’ve had some clients recently who’ve have to deal with some very serious legal consequences for some things that were probably completely avoidable. They just didn’t realize at the time how serious they were facing. So when it comes to the military’s handling of controlled substances, you should know by now if you are a service member, that the services are very aggressive in their handling of any kind of illegal controlled substance showing up in your urine. There are routine urinalysis that are conducted both as sample size in terms of limited selected number personnel, or sometimes what we call a hundred percent unit where all members have to provide a urine sample that is then sent to a DOD drug lab that is screened for various controlled substances.

And if you have a substance in your system that is not legal, in other words, it’s a schedule one controlled substance that there’s no legal reason anybody can have it in their system. Or even if it’s off a schedule, one or two controlled substance that is legally prescribable like codeine or morphine or things like that. Or Adderall or things like that. But you don’t have a legal prescription, then you fall under the aggressive policies of the DOD when it comes to trying to root out drug use in the forces. And there’s good reasons for these policies. Obviously, people who are handling weapons and flying jets and maintaining equipment and defending our country are expected to be fully alert and capable. And as well established that drug use is a threat to that. And so, based on that policy it has been determined after initial review that you engaged in illegal use of controlled substance, then you’re going to be processed for involuntary administrative separation.

But I’m trying to take a step before that to talk a little bit about some of the things you can do to prevent finding yourself in that situation. And one of those is just be cognizant of what’s going into your body. I don’t vape personally, but I know that vaping has become a widespread common activity. That is interesting because it’s a delivery system that can be from things that are totally innocuous to totally illegal. And what will sometimes happen, and I wasn’t aware of this until recently discussing, is that it’s apparently comfortable and common for people sometimes to offer each other a hit of their vape and take a hit off somebody else’s vape. That’s a new one on me. Usually I don’t walk around drinking stuff out of other people’s drinks or eating food off other people’s plates. And I would advise service members to have that same mindset, even though in greater society, if that’s a comfortable thing, to let somebody try something to take inhale off a vaping device. Whether it’s a vape stick or a vape pen, or some other kind of way to deliver vape type entertainment you are still going to find yourself potentially responsible in feeling the consequences of whatever’s in that system. So if someone hands you an object that may have THC either in the vape cartridge itself or the device may have been heavily used for THC and there may be THC remnants, we’re talking about the active ingredient that is illegal and controlled in cannabis products, right? And it may be legal in your state, but it’s certainly illegal for service members. You might inhale enough of that in your system that it’s going to show up hot on your analysis, and that means that you’re going to have to deal with this policy. Which is going to lead to, depending on your service, some sort of negative outcome. It could be something as minor as being sent to drug treatment, receiving some sort of Article 15 or involuntary administrative separation.

It’s possible to beat that and be retained in some cases, depending on the nature and facts and service involved. It could even be so drastic as to involve formal criminal prosecution under the UCMJ. So the bottom line is this, be cognizant of what you’re putting in your body. Don’t drink out of other people’s cups. Don’t drink substances that you don’t know what’s in them. Don’t hit vapes pens or vape devices that are not yours. Just politely decline or pass on it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it is a dangerous activity because it could cause a lot of headache and heartache for you. If you do make that mistake and you find yourself in a situation where you have come up hot for urinalysis and you think that might be the case, you need to get in touch with a law firm that can help you, that specializes in UCMJ and military jurisdictions.
Each service and jurisdiction is a little different. You need somebody who understands the process and understands the law, who can advise you because it’s going to be something you’re going to have to deal with. That is what we do here at our law firm. And we’re happy to set up a legal consultation that’s confidential. We won’t share your details with anyone else. You have no obligation to hire us beyond that, we’re just happy to talk to service members because that’s something we believe in. But to avoid all that, just be cognizant of what you’re putting in your body and recognize that what you do put in your body, even if the device itself doesn’t have an active chemical in it at the time, the remnants of previous cartridges could cause an issue for you. So be smart, be safe, and give us a call if you got any trouble.

Sean Mangan is a UCMJ court-martial attorney who specializes in defense of allegations of sexual assault for all branches of the military worldwide.

Contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 253-212-958

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