Hidden in plain sight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Department of Defense employees are subject to prosecution for the consumption or possession of certain mind-altering substances.

Knowing your restrictions and knowing your resources can prevent you from finding yourself in trouble for illegal drug use.

Federal law supersedes state law for all DoD employees when determining whether a substance is prohibited.

“In a lot of states marijuana is now allowed, whether it's for medicinal or recreational purposes, but federally it's still not allowed,” said Capt. William Barton, 81st Training Wing chief of military justice.

A product in many markets right now is a marijuana derivative called delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, delta-8 THC is a psychoactive substance and is banned for DoD employees, but legal for civilians to purchase and consume. Many delta-8 products are sold as gummies, powder, capsules and even infused into seltzers and lemonades.

“You can just walk into a store and buy it off the shelf,” said Barton. “You don't need to go get a medical card or prescription and packaging can be deceiving. You need to make sure to look at what you’re buying very closely and check labels.”

The DoD has released an instruction outlining the use of dietary supplements and substances and an online database allowing service members to reference prohibited ingredients.

“The thing that can be scary for Airmen is that it's so prevalent and for a lot of our civilian friends these things are legal now,” said Barton. “You just have to be careful and cognizant and not blindly trust what people give you.”

DoD employees are highly encouraged to verify that the products they purchase contain only approved ingredients. Individuals found guilty of the possession or consumption of prohibited substances can face adverse actions up to and including removal or discharge from service.

Editor’s Note: This article does not constitute official military legal advice from the 81st Training Wing, the United States Air Force, or the Department of Defense.