Man Buns and Flower

Imagine Unisex Hair Regs and Legal Weed in the Marine Corps.

April 26, 2021

I have observed Marines for nearly 30 years, and recently I noticed the average ground-pounder is rocking the kind of haircut that would have given an old-school lifer an aneurysm twenty years ago. I cannot remember the last time I saw a fleet Jarhead with a screaming high and stupid haircut, and I am grateful.

I see little difference between the motivator who spends hours crafting a perfect Horseshoe disaster and the fluff-and-buff lance colonel who goes through half a can of Axe pomade just to go to the PX. To me, it is the same absurd fashion statement, and I have been guilty of both. Long hair in The Corps is not a crime, and even a cursory glance at our history shows that long hair does not diminish the warrior.

Everywhere I look now, I see dudes of all ranks pushing the zero to three regs to new heights. I am excited, but shocked that nobody has made the argument for man buns yet. New regs are on the horizon, but Mother Corps is being tight-lipped about it.

In the last five years, almost 300 women have moved into combat arms jobs, and The Corps is actively recruiting women to lead the infantry. As women increasingly integrate into combat roles, it is only a matter of time before a wise knuckle-dragger successfully argues that if female Marines can do the job and have earrings, frostings, and hair long enough to touch the collar, then dudes should have the same options.

3rd Recon ATL circa 2035

The other thing that has changed drastically in the last 30 years is the attitude towards The Devil’s Lettuce. I grew up in the “Just Say No” Reagan era when most middle-aged people took Reefer Madness seriously, and even a tiny amount of The Pot Drugs could lead to some serious time. I did not think I would see legal weed in my lifetime, but currently, more than a third of all states have completely legalized Marijuana.

Five years ago, I talked with a Marine who had been wounded and was recovering while working at a training command. Naval medicine flooded him with an endless supply of opiates, and he got strung out. When he tried to do the right thing and have an honest talk with his doctors, they cut him off cold turkey. He was in a desperate situation and turned to legal Marijuana; he was not alone.

The Marine Corps has never been a puritanical organization. I came in at a time when there were still some Vietnam veterans in the upper ranks. All the old salts I got to know told stories about a Corps filled with violence and drug use. Smoking joints on the fantail, eating shrooms in the barracks, guzzling Robitussin, and “two-beer” lunches, etc., was just part of daily life. Right before I retired, I remember having a hilarious conversation with an old Master Guns who explained that when the piss test was newly implemented, leaders would only send the ones who were clean to get tested; everybody else went to the library “to study.”

I recently talked to a guy who was a SNCO in the 80’s on Okinawa, and he talked about a popular drink in Sinville called “Purple Haze.” He said nearly a whole battalion popped for opium, because of the drink, during the very first piss test on the island. When Mother Corps first started testing for MDMA, I witnessed most of a BLT pop for it in Okinawa during the late 90’s.

Once, while on float in Indonesia, I was made aware of a story about an entire command suite that inadvertently ingested Ecstasy on libbo. I howled in laughter at a very descriptive re-telling of the incident (from a Lance Criminal who was there) that involved super-lifers, with skinny arms and pot bellies, decked out in Horseshoe cuts, Jorts, and white socks with Tevas, who were completely unaware of the fact that they were tripping their balls off.

They were shirtless and sweaty, chewing on chemlights and bro-hugging it out on the dance floor of a puke-stained cinder block bar as they sloppily gyrated to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” We were getting piss-tested every other day back then. Curiously, I heard that once the lifers realized what had happened, everybody who had been at the bar managed to avoid being tested. So it goes. Marines like to find interesting ways to get blasted and trying to pretend otherwise is pointless.

More than 70% of the states have some form of medical marijuana laws. The recently updated Agriculture Improvement Act allows for the nationwide production and transportation of hemp that has a limit of 0.3% THC. As a result, legal weed is a big business. CBD is being touted as either a cure-all, or the new snake oil, and it is in everything from dog treats to face cream. An enterprising new company called “Dad Grass” specifically markets their legal product to middle-aged men who just want to take the edge off while working in their garage.

Last year, a group of prior Marine Raiders created their own cannabis company. It was born out of veterans actively seeking other options to deal with their issues. They are not alone. Canada made weed legal three years ago and immediately allowed troops to partake in Bob Marley's medicine.

A year ago, The House of Representatives passed marijuana decriminalization legislation, but it never made it to the Senate. A weed banking reform bill also just cleared the House, but it will probably fail in The Senate as well. Last month, Mexico legalized recreational Marijuana. All this activity points to weed being legal in the U.S. within the next five years. Once it is, the elephant will be firmly planted in the wardroom of Mother Corps.

Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are all drugs that are readily available and widely used by Marines. Many have argued that they get through the typical Marine Corps buffoonery because of those drugs. Many have been completely undone by those drugs as well.

In my lifetime, I hope to see the day when the average Jarhead will be able to stop by the package store and pick up a couple of grams of Recon flower. Maybe his hair length and ink will no longer affect his FITREP or his ability to serve. Maybe, he will be able to light his grill and fire up a one-hitter on the porch while listening to music in peace. And, maybe, finally…nobody will give a fuck.