For counterculture movements, there is no surer sign of assimilation and acceptance into the vast, inhuman machine has oppressed you than being granted the ability to volunteer to dedicate your life in service of that same machine.
Gay people have been discriminated against in American society, and trans people suffer even more. But, hey — now gay people can serve openly in the military, and until President Donald Trump removed their access last August, trans people could, too! (Whether or not they should, and the merits and health of a society that requires its citizens to fight in its name in order for them to be able to afford schooling, are both grist for another day.)
Now, with the U.S. Army fighting what appears to be a permanent war in Afghanistan and desperately in need of 80,000 new soldiers — or, more accurately, with the world’s costliest standing army enjoying new funding following years of declining military spending under Obama — the same favor is being extended to marijuana users.
This month, USA Today brought us the news that the Army is so hard up for recruits that it’s relaxing its standards to allow more recruits who admit to having smoked marijuana. The Army is also allowing more “marginally qualified recruits,” soldiers who required waivers for a criminal history or for poor educational standards into basic training. This is partly because the Army needs to attract teenagers playing Call of Duty to pick up a real weapon rather than go enter the workforce — and partly because using cannabis is now legal in more than half the country.
Prospective soldiers who have smoked marijuana in the past will be given a waiver — on two conditions. First, they have to promise not to smoke weed again (or at least not until later, when they’re suffering from the crippling PTSD they picked up on while on active duty in a combat zone — because drug use is forbidden when in the service of the United States).
And second, the recruits also have to be obedient.
“The big thing we’re looking for is a pattern of misconduct where they’re going to have a problem with authority,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the Army’s top man in charge of recruits, according to USA Today.
“Smoking marijuana in an isolated incident as a teenager is not a pattern of misconduct,” Gen. Snow said.
This will put at least some soldiers in the position of having to literally destroy what they once enjoyed. Troops stationed overseas are routinely deployed to destroy drug finds as part of their mission, as are domestically based National Guard units.
The military has always had a disingenuous relationship with drugs. In Vietnam, troops were issued steroids, uppers and painkillers in order to allow them to fight better for longer. And military personnel like pilots are still issued “go pills” — that is, speed — to keep them awake and on edge during long missions. And thanks to Congress, the Veterans Administration is still prohibiting its doctors from prescribing medical marijuana to former soldiers.
Still. The fact that the Pentagon is copping to the new reality around it and “welcoming” people who admit to smoking weed is indeed a sign that marijuana is becoming more mainstream.
TELL US, do you think the military should prohibit cannabis use?