Pubdate: Thu, 11 Oct 2007
Source: Army Times (US)
Copyright: 2007 Army Times Publishing Company
Author: William H. McMichael, Staff writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Crime Policy - United States)


The Defense Department's personnel chief says that a "significant 
fraction" of members of Congress have probably smoked marijuana and, 
if they were somehow age-eligible, would need a waiver to join the 
U.S. military today.

David S.C. Chu made the observation in describing the process by 
which so-called "personal conduct waivers" are granted to potential 
recruits who admit marijuana use. One of the questions recruiters 
ask, he told defense reporters during a Pentagon briefing on armed 
forces recruiting, is whether a recruit has ever used marijuana. He 
said that in the Marine Corps, admission of one use requires a waiver.

"That's a pretty tough standard," said Chu, the undersecretary of 
defense for personnel and readiness. "Not to be cheeky about this, 
but if we applied that standard to our legislative overseers, a 
significant fraction would need a waiver to join the United States 
military," Chu said.

CNN reporter Barbara Starr wanted to know the basis for his 
contention. "Based upon public statements about past marijuana 
usage," Chu said. Starr followed up, asking, "Are you saying that 
members of Congress who oversee your department --"

"I'm saying that in our society, experimental drug usage is a 
significant issue with young people," Chu said. "We require a review 
if you acknowledge that you've done so. That's all I'm saying. That 
affects a large fraction of our population."

"Sir, that's not exactly what you said," Starr continued. "You said a 
significant fraction of your legislative overseers --"

"They are representative of our society," Chu said. "And they're 
supposed to be. All I'm saying is that the standards we set are 
sufficient in terms of review of your past behavior before you joined 
the military ... a significant fraction of almost any cross-section 
of our society is going to have to be reviewed."

According to National Survey of Drug Abuse statistics, "high 
marijuana" usage marked the period of 1972 through 1982. In 1972, 
about 31 percent of youths aged 12 to 25 used marijuana; usage by 18- 
to 25-year-olds peaked in 1982 at 54.4 percent. Members of those age 
groups would now range from 50 to 60 years old.

The average age of members of the House of Representatives is 55.9, 
according to the Congressional Research Service. The Senate's average 
age is 61.7. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake