I originally wrote this article a couple of years ago for my friends that are the brains for www.weednews.co. I have revisited it with spelling corrections and an added paragraph at the end.
Marijuana doesn’t put you in strange hotel rooms doing things you’ll regret for the rest of your life. Marijuana doesn’t put you in the back of a police car singing Bohemian Rhapsody either. Only goodness comes from marijuana whether you use it or not; marijuana does not make you suck a d*ck.
I’ll even go as far as to say marijuana heal; it helps with nausea, pain, nervous conditions, and a wealth of other things.
In fact, marijuana turns some into scientist. It’s that “when you see everything as a possible smoking utensil” syndrome. One becomes acquainted with the properties of vacuum, gravity, and air flow. Besides the art and science of creating smoking utensils, smokers are full on chemist by figuring out how to break down the most beautiful plant in the world. I never knew the little residue in my bag had a smoking potential but yet someone, somewhere figured having a screen on the bottom of the grinder helps create kief and what about the other little stoner that created honey oil, needless to say, but I still will “marijuana smokers aren’t all dummies”.
You may wonder why I start with all sorts of randomness; it’s because most military members already know all of this. In fact, prior marijuana use is probably in most military member’s experience. As I wrote this, I wondered the significance of this, but it turns out I’m not alone as its a Yahoo question already: Actual amount of marijuana use in the military.
Marijuana use in the military is quite common. In some relaxed environments, there have been mass busts due to a command-wide sweep (base pee test). Many of the busts that occur are for stuff harder than marijuana, but rest assured every single one of them is acquainted with pot, and not all personal separated for drugs are bad people (I just never got caught).
As people, we will abuse and do things no matter the consequences, so prohibiting the least of all evils does more harm than good. In fact, people will lean towards the “legal” man-made thing over the illegal god made thing more times than not. There’s a reason why synthetic marijuana is so popular and has been doing more harm than good to military personnel and youths.
When I joined the military I rarely drank beer or alcohol, in fact, I frowned upon it (but that’s because I come from a family of alcoholics) but after joining the military, I became a fish out of water.
Let me give you a little pre-story relating to drug use in the military. Before I joined, I met a group of stoners who were all in the Navy plus one meth-head in the Marine Corp. Daily we would smoke and enjoy life in Southern California, I was just a long-haired sporadically employed poetic hippy at the time and saw these guys had a steady paycheck and were pulling in the girls I wanted so decided one broke lonely night joining the military was what I was going to do. I was in the delayed entry program so had to wait six months, during that time the guys I was hanging with all got busted during a random command wide sweep. They were corpsman on a marine base, and for some reason the hospital let them come and go while they were on “trial”. The command was fighting to keep them in, but at the time the zero tolerance was taking full effect (and still is). As I was going in, they were getting separated.
I shaved my dreads (so “the man” wouldn’t have the pleasure) before going in and joined the Navy on April 1.
Once you get off the bus in front of boot camp, the adventure begins. One of the first things they do is try and get any last confessions out, anything you didn’t tell them before that you think they might find out, it’s called “The Moment of Truth”. One of my things I didn’t tell them was marijuana-related, I stayed strong, and they never found out.
Bootcamp is pretty easy if you’re in semi-reasonable shape, but you appreciate downtime like watching a movie with your division. On one such occasion, the RDC (Recruit Division Commander) brought in Friday. I thought it was some cruel joke having to watch the life I just left. Other moments of buddah awareness occurred during battle stations, a Navy training course at the time.
The Navy has mocked up ships and scenarios that get you ready in case you are on a boat (99 percent chance you will be, it’s the Navy). When performing these drills, there’s a lot of downtime as everything, and everyone takes a minute to prepare for a fresh batch of new troops. During one of the down times, the petty officer making the announcements made a gurgling than followed it up with a sucking holding breath noise. We all looked around and smiled when he said “Those of you that know what that sound is won’t be seeing that for awhile”, it was a gurgling bong sound he made.
The first four weeks were the most stressful as I watched individuals getting called out for failing the drug test we were given upon arrival. Now they drug test you before shipping you off, something about cost-effective. We would whisper to each other about when was the last time you smoked or what was the last drug you did, knowing full on well anyone of us could get called out.
As the weeks pass, I knew I was going to be safe. The first few weeks were scariest for me but not the most painful like for the cigarette smokers. There is no smoking period in boot camp, and for the first few weeks all smokers were coughing up lung cookies, running to and from the bathroom.
At my first school/command out of boot camp, I saw a lot of individuals go back to their old ways, but I held fast waiting to see what the fleet was going to be like. During this time people were getting popped for ecstasy and rave associated drugs for some reason, there have always been a lot of raves around me.
It’s at the beginning of your military career you decide how serious you’re going to take it. As I saw people dropping like flies because they had a steady paycheck funding the party I saw a lot of other people creating a new party. The party as legal as possible party, I find it foolish but people will do more addictive and harder drugs just because they are out of your system by the end of the weekend. Besides the harder drug syndrome, people like me turn to drinking, I’m not immune to the asshole disease when drinking but I do handle it a lot better.
After finishing school, I got stationed on the U.S.S Constellation where more drinking and shenanigans were to be had. A close buddy stayed with my wife and me, he was from Riverside, Ca. close to home with a steady supply of excellent weed. Daily he would smoke, and I would only do it on occasion.
My friend the super stoner from Riverside, Ca. was also a super sailor in his command. An overall badass employee if you will. The command loved him so much he got an early promotion because of things he did on a deployment. When they returned from overseas the command also gave him a speciality school which would further the command’s missions. Unfortunately, on his first day of school, he did a bong rip in my apartment because a few hours later there was a base-wide command urine analysis which included his school.
He came home that day with a look. He knew he had been caught; chances are slim in a urinalysis. The pee tester doesn’t care how great you are; the pee tester doesn’t care who you are just what you’ve done. When your pee goes into a batch only a percentage of that batch gets tested, pee testing costs money. From that percentage out of each box if one of them pop positive than the rest of the box is tested. So if your jar is lucky enough to get skipped you better hope the ones getting tested are doing what they’re supposed to do. If your pee makes it through these odds than consider yourself lucky, I do.
So that’s one example of what not to do? When I did smoke, I tried to do it during an extended period of leave and at the beginning of it. Smoke the first day, clean my system the rest than worry like a motherfucker.
A couple of times I smoked on a Friday and found my self in the line for a u.a on Monday. Those are the times you contemplate what you’re doing with your life and accepting if you get kicked out of the military it’s going to be for some bullshit since smoking weed is way less hazardous than booze. The more time I spent in, the less I did, marijuana is not that drug.
You have to worry about everyone in the military. One time during my “C” school I was hanging with some pretty cool dudes who turned out to be stoners (shocker). Anyways, we were all watching a movie when a higher ranking enlisted Marine asked for a smoke. One of the pretty chill dudes said yeah and handed him a pack of smokes. It turns out there were a couple of joints in there as well.
As the night went one of them open the pack and realised there were joints in there than freaked out. Somehow they quickly found out the senior enlisted ratted them out and disposed of everything. The following day there was a command-wide piss test, to no surprise, most of those cool guys got separated. Perhaps another round of super sailors taken away for some dumb ass shit.
It wasn’t always like this. At one time High Times and rolling papers were sold on bases. Nancy Reagan and Just Say No did this. Zero tolerance and Schedule I drugs did this. The military’s attitude changed when a rash of accidents happen; drugs were to blame! Not that those people were working 15 to 20 hours on a flight deck in foul weather conditions.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em
Funny little thing about all the people retiring; most of them of looking forward to spending lazy days getting fucked up (don’t you think weed should be involved?). The problem is when you serve 20 some odd years doing the “right” thing by Military standards and have been convincing yourself that there is a health reason for cannabis prohibition but in actuality, your government has been hurting itself by not encouraging the safer choice for a recreational retreat.
Marijuana legalization/ medical marijuana is always a part of some service member’s consideration. Problem is how loud you can be about it. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of Captain America’s out there thinking they’re constantly doing the right thing by laughing at the stoner getting separated, but there are the few and strong that feel bad for them and thank whatever god it’s not them.
PTSD and Beyond
At the time when I originally wrote the main body of this, there was no real PTSD conversation, but it has proven to help soldiers and other people who have experienced trauma in their life.
Cannabis has helped people mentally realign themselves and have given many the capability to participate in the public again. Cannabis is the plant that can benefit both the body and mind; this is something many have learned before the military and especially after, once your service has taken its toll on your body.