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What constitutes lawful and unlawful drug possession in the military?

You are facing drug possession charges by military law enforcement. You could be demoted and stripped off your titles overnight. Other possible developments include you facing a dishonorable charge or even incarceration. With your future and freedom at stake, your subsequent move will be quite an important decision you’ll ever make.

Ideally, you should place your fate in the hands of an experienced military drug crime lawyer.  For instance, your attorney may argue on the premise that not all drug use and possession is unlawful.

Background on drug charges for service members

Article 112a of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 describes the types of wrongdoing relating to controlled substances.  Controlled substances comprise of any substance captured in Schedules I to V created by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 812). Typical examples include:

  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamine
  • Marijuana
  • Opium
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Lysergic acid Diethylamide (LSD)

The most common types of misconduct include drug use and possession. Therefore, your drug use and possession charges will be based under Article 112a which forbids the use of controlled substances by military personnel.

Lawful drug possession

Being in possession of drugs is not necessarily unlawful. Article 112a does not mention prescription drugs as part of controlled substances. This means that a military service member can use, for example, Cannabidiol (CBD) which is derived from marijuana as long as he or she has a valid prescription from a certified doctor.

According to Article 112a, the use and possession of controlled substances are only prohibited if the use is wrongful. Therefore, drug possession may not be unlawful if the service member is not familiar with the contraband nature of the drug. For example, the possession of a substance you genuinely believe is powdered sugar, but is, in fact, heroin, would not be unlawful.

Unlawful drug possession

If you have a prescription pill without a legal prescription from a doctor, you may be charged with drug possession charges under article 112a. There are different ways you can come into unauthorized possession of a prescription drug, including altering prescriptions, pilfering prescription pads, forging prescriptions, or getting prescriptions through other fraudulent means.

The military typically employs an extremely active drug testing program to detect wrongful drug use. Essentially, the military employs urinalysis testing to detect whether a service member has been using controlled substances. A positive urinalysis text may be used as evidence against you in a court-martial. Urinalysis is designed to test for:

  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • PCP
  • Amphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Barbiturates

However, a specific sample can be tested for some controlled substances and not others.  Nevertheless, all urine samples are subjected to marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines testing.  How could you refute the evidence of controlled substance in your urine? You may lose your pay or even be banished from the military.

In conclusion, even if you’ve failed a military urinalysis and are facing charges of drug use and possession, you’re not devoid of options. Despite the body of evidence against you, you have a good chance of fighting these charges with a military defense attorney.

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