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Virginia State Bar
Department of the Army

Drug cases

The military is experiencing a rise in drug offenses related to LSD and other hard drugs. While we see the regular marijuana use and distribution, many drug cases now involve harder drugs like LSD, opiods, and such.

For many years LSD and similar hard drugs were not automatically screened for a tested. There were various reasons for this, including a lack of prevalence and the costs of testing for such drugs. The military made a decision based on cost and usage.

That has changed.

Over the last several years we have been seeing and increase in the use of serious drug offenses like the use, possession, and distribution of LSD.

An example is here of a Sheppard AFB airman who has pleaded guilty to the use and distribution of LSD. He was sentenced to a short time in confinement and a bad conduct discharge. He will have an automatic appeal, but because it was a guilty plea he is unlikely to get the findings or sentence changed on appeal.

Because of this, the military is taking a more proactive approach to testing for harder drugs like LSD or or chemical formulations.

Two different approaches are being taken: more testing for hard drugs and using hair follicle sampling.

LSD for example has a relatively short half-life which means it excretes more quickly from the body compared to marijuana which can leave traces in the body for up to 30 days.

Hair follicle analysis can do several things. Less need to worry about the half-life so that a person who uses LSD on the weekend may still be detectable in hair for an extended period of time. Also, depending on the length of the hair (best from the legs or underarms) it is possible to detect multiple or longer term uses of drugs.

From an accused's perspective hair follicle analysis might be helpful to challenge a urine or blood test and may be helpful to establish the lack of a drug identified in hair shows the person is not a regular user.

We have used hair follicle analysis several times in a positive way.

Of course it is better not to do illegal drugs in the first place.

If you do fail a urinalysis or are told you have tested positive for drugs--please do not make any statements to anyone about that until you have talked to a lawyer. The lawyer can be a military lawyer or you can call us for a consultation. Too many people cause a problem for themselves if later prosecuted at court-martial (or face an administrative discharge board) find themselves in difficulty because they made statements before getting legal advice.
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