Colorado’s recreational marijuana use laws have made our beautiful state an even more desirable place to visit. The first place in the nation to make recreational marijuana sales and consumption completely legal, not knowing all the facts can get connoisseurs in some real legal trouble. Yes, any person over the age of 21 can legally purchase marijuana in any form for any purpose, and consume it. However, these state laws do not trump federal laws nor do they override the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that service members are bound by.

Join us in today’s post as we attempt to clarify some of the ways that Colorado recreational use laws affect our military service members and civilians visiting local military installations. At the Law Offices of Murphy and Price, we have been Colorado Springs’ military lawyer of choice for decades because of our skills, expertise, and familiarity with state, federal, and military laws and court. We aggressively build a defense and tirelessly defend those who defend our nation.

Recreational Marijuana Laws for Military Service Members

Before we jump into the answers to some frequently asked questions, let’s review some basics. As a service member, you are bound to state, federal, and military law, whichever is more restrictive. While this may seem excessive, it was made clear when you signed your contract. What gets many service members in trouble is what they choose to do in their downtime, that for any other Colorado citizen or visitor, would be perfectly legal. Your commander should have made this information available to you and clarified how the laws apply to you.

If weed is legal, why am I in trouble?

Per military regulation, service members are strictly prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or consuming any substance listed. You are subject to regular and random drug screening and any consequences that result in a violation of policy. Because recreational marijuana purchase and use are legal — if purchased from an authorized dealer — as long as you are within state guidelines, you will not find yourself facing state charges, and unless you possessed or consumed it on post, you likely won’t face federal charges either. However, even if you followed all of the state and federal laws, you are still subject to punishment under UCMJ. Even entering a smoke shop can result in an Article 15.

I was on leave in Colorado and consumed legal marijuana, why am I facing charges?

Whether you are a Colorado native who returned home to Colorado on leave or you are stationed on Fort Carson or another Colorado installation and were on leave, you are subject to military law 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as your contract lasts. This includes nights, weekends, holidays, on and off duty, and while on leave. Again, however, if you were following all of the state laws and did not possess or consume the recreational marijuana on a military installation, you should not face state or federal charges and will only face UCMJ action.

I was visiting Fort Carson and got arrested, why?

Fort Carson and every other military installation is federal property. Part of the state recreational use law stipulates that it does not apply to federal land or private property. There are signs posted upon entering any military installation that it is strictly prohibited. If you are a military service member visiting Fort Carson with legal marijuana, you will not face state charges, but may still be facing federal charges and UCMJ action. If you are a civilian or military family member visiting Fort Carson, you may be facing federal charges.

The Criminal Defense Team at the Law Offices of Murphy and Price Can Help

Regardless of the circumstances or which court system you are facing charges, you have rights. One of those rights is the right to an attorney. At the Law Offices of Murphy and Price, we have been providing aggressive criminal defense for military service members and their families for decades. We can offer you the criminal defense you deserve in state, federal, and military courts. If you have been charged with a marijuana charge in Colorado, contact us so we can begin building your defense!