Hamilton: Marijuana, how Big MJ threatens national defense
Millennials by (about 68 percent) and the mainstream media, in general, tend to favor the recreational use of marijuana (MJ). Older conservatives (71 percent) tend to oppose MJ’s recreational use. See: Pew Research Survey, March, 2015. Each side thinks it is correct; however, when it comes to national defense, conservatives take a longer and, perhaps, the more prudent view. Here’s why:
“Approximately 71 percent of the 34 million 17-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. would not qualify for military service because of reasons related to health, physical appearance and educational background, according to the Pentagon.” See: Time Magazine, June 29, 2014. Prior illegal drug use, to include MJ, is one of those disqualifiers.
Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) lists marijuana along with opium, heroin, cocaine, and meth as a forbidden substance. Why? Because we need our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to be alert and be in possession of their full mental capacities at all times. They endure hostile fire and, even in non-combat situations, they must operate highly dangerous machinery. The military is no place for someone stoned on marijuana.
Unfortunately, and despite federal laws against the recreational use of marijuana, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and D.C. have claimed a Tenth Amendment power to make MJ legal. Twelve more states are threatening to use the Tenth Amendment to do the same. Given the tendency of young people to experiment with and even to fall into habitual use of marijuana, this trend could continue to shrink the already very small pool of military-qualified 17-to-24-year-olds.
The Commerce, Due Process, Equal Protection and Privileges or Immunities Clauses of the 14th Amendment have been used by Big Government Democrats and Republicans alike to erode the powers of the individual states which the Founders thought would be protected by the Tenth Amendment which states: “ The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
While constitutionalists applaud when the states stand up for their rights under the Tenth Amendment, many conservatives are appalled when the Tenth Amendment is used to legalize MJ and capture a way to collect more “sin taxes.” In 2012, the Obama re-election campaign promoted Colorado’s pro-MJ Amendment 64 as a way to bring out the youth vote and carry Colorado for President Obama. Moreover, Big MJ is a multi-billion-dollar industry and a vote to aid Big MJ always raises the question: Qui bono? Who benefits?
Elected officials who are perceived in any way to support Big MJ do so at their peril because, inevitably, some young people in their districts will be harmed by MJ and the parents of those harmed by MJ are likely to seek retribution during the next election cycle. Moreover, fairly or unfairly, a vote in favor of Big MJ raises the specter of money under the table.
While most Americans favor the use of MJ to relieve pain for end-of-life hospice situations, the nation is almost evenly split over recreational use of MJ. But factor in MJ’s long-term, negative impact on our national defense and we could see a shift away from the legalization of MJ.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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