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Prof. Carpenter was recently quoted in discussing the impact of President Biden’s recent pardons of marijuana convictions on service members convicted of those offenses under the UCMJ.
President Joe Biden recently issued a proclamation on December 22, 2023, pardoning Americans federally charged with simple possession, attempted possession, and use of marijuana. However, the pardon does not apply to service members under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ imposes its own regulations on military personnel, and while the president has the authority to alter certain punishments under the Manual for Courts-Martial, any significant change to the UCMJ would require congressional action. Removing a federal marijuana conviction for civilians can have positive impacts, such as clearing records for employment and housing, but for service members, it could affect their discharge status and eligibility for certain benefits. Despite the federal pardon not extending to the military, it may influence broader eligibility for military service as branches face recruiting challenges, with some testing policy changes to offer leniency for prior drug users. Notably, some military branches, like the Air Force, have been exploring policies, such as a THC pilot program, to provide a second chance for individuals who initially tested positive for marijuana during recruitment.
The full article can be found here.