Military To Soldiers: No Marijuana Festivals - Culture | MERRY JANE
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Military To Soldiers: No Marijuana Festivals

Army officials in Alaska remind troops to stay away from cannabis-themed festivities.

by Justin O'Connell

In recent weeks, veterans in New Jersey and Colorado have made some hopeful strides towards access to medical marijuana. In Alaska however, commanders there are issuing a warning to active troops to steer clear of festivals and events with a cananbis theme. 

The military has reiterated that Alaska soldiers can no longer attend any events which promote the use of marijuana or hemp, including fairs, festivals and conventions in the state. This continues a long history of the military banning soldiers from partaking in ceremonies based around the marijuana plant. 

Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, commander of U.S. Army Alaska, put the policy in place Thursday. A violation could mean punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The military does not want its soldiers attending events “promoting the use of marijuana and disseminating information on the growing and processing” thereof. In November 2015, Alaska voters approved marijuana legalization, and the state’s lawmakers have been drafting regulations for its legal sale ever since. 

A legal user must be 21 or older in Alaska to use marijuana. Use of marijuana is banned in public spaces, such as schools, businesses, parks and roads. Possession, growing and giving away up to six marijuana plants is legal, though only three of the plants can be mature and flowering at any given time. The Department of Defense does not allow military service members to use marijuana because the plant is still illegal federally, even where the plant has been legalized.

“We just wanted to make sure folks know the left and right limits when they leave the installation,” said spokesman John Pennell. “One of those limits is, if it has to do with cannabis, if it has to do with marijuana or hemp, stay away. The community here is extremely supportive of the military. In some cases that can be less than helpful. For example we’ve had a couple businesses that are in the process of getting licenses to legally sell marijuana, and they advertised a military discount."

He added: "It's well-meaning people who are trying to reach out because they support the soldiers and their families." Attendance at such events could be bad for soldier discipline, the military supposes. 

"Attendance at such events is inconsistent with military service and has the potential to adversely impact the health, welfare and good order and discipline for soldiers stationed here," the release says.

MERRY JANE sources claim even high ranking commanders in the military don't have a problem with marijuana, as long as soldiers don't get caught. Consider a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the green age. As we've also reported, San Francisco 49er Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's recent protests earned the support of many veterans. The military's stance on marijuana continues to jeopardize the livelihoods of many military personnel, in particularly those who need the plant for medicinal purposes. 


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Justin is a California-based writer who covers music, cannabis, craft beer, Baja California, science and technology. His writing has appeared in VICE and the San Diego Reader.



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