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Pot candies look innocent, but they're illegal

Jul. 6, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Cheeba Chews provide marijuana in an edible form, but don't let the candylike packaging fool you: Chew one and you could lose your career.
Cheeba Chews provide marijuana in an edible form, but don't let the candylike packaging fool you: Chew one and you could lose your career. (Air Force)
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Cheeba Chews look like Tootsie Rolls and promise relaxation, energy and pain relief, wrapped in a rainbow of packaging. But they are off-limits to soldiers.

Cheeba Chews and their other branded names are the latest trend in tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Manufactured in Boulder, Colo., Cheeba Chews brands include Trics and Green Hornets, according to the company’s website.

Here are five things soldiers need to know:

1 Chewable marijuana is illegal. The Uniform Code of Military Justice leaves no doubt: The use of any intoxicating or mood-altering substance other than alcohol and tobacco products is illegal, Army personnel spokesman Hank Minitrez told Army Times.

Army Regulation 600-85, Chapter 4 prohibits soldiers from using substances for the purpose of inducing excitement, intoxication or stupefaction of the central nervous system.

“This includes synthetic substances, as well,” he said. “The regulation clearly states that it is a clear violation of the UCMJ and we expect soldiers to adhere to this, not just for good order and discipline but for their own health and welfare.”

2 Even “unmedicated” chews can get you in trouble. Cheeba Chews come medicated and unmedicated, the latter of which is infused with hempseed oil and may sound harmless.

But guidance recently released by the Air Force, citing lab studies, says people may test positive for THC after ingesting hempseed oil.

“The bottom line is situational awareness of what you eat because you never know what is in it,” said Master Sgt. Charles Mann, first sergeant for 1st Special Operations Comptroller Squadron.

3 Ignorance is no excuse. “Some drugs can accidentally get in the body,” said Senior Airman Christopher Guthrie, 1st Special Operations Wing Judge Advocate General paralegal. That’s why the Defense Department has thresholds on the presence of certain drugs in the body.

“However, THC is not allowed in our bodies at all, and trace amounts could lead to a discharge,” he said.

4 They aren’t good for you, despite the company’s claim. Cheeba Chews calls cannabis oil “one of nature’s greatest gifts,” a “super food” packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that make our hair shiny.

But because this candylike substance has such a high concentration of THC, it can cause medical problems.

“The dose found in one 10-gram cube is more than a million times the amount needed” for a positive urine test, according to a Marine Corps release. “Cheeba Chews deliver the THC directly to the blood stream after dissolving in the mouth.”

5 They’re not a huge problem, but the Army has an eye out. Minitrez said that although the Army hasn’t issued any specific guidance on Cheeba Chews, the existing regulations are broad enough to cover them.

“Our substance-abuse prevention experts regularly brief commanders at all levels on all threats to our soldiers’ safety and health, including the latest emerging trends,” he said.

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