It is no secret that the United States military will practically bury those soldiers caught smoking marijuana in a dark, damp corridor underneath the Pentagon. Now one Army general in Alaska has made it clear that it’s verboten even to attend cannabis-related festivals.
Major General Bryan Owens, the leading command behind the Army stationed in the Last Frontier, issued a statement to more than 10,000 soldiers prohibiting them from attending stoned soirees, including “marijuana, cannabis or hemp fairs, festivals, conventions and similar events.”
“These types of events typically involve, but are not limited to, promoting the use of marijuana and disseminating information on the growing and processing of marijuana,” Owens wrote. “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.”
This move is just the latest in a series of governmental efforts to reaffirm with its military forces that marijuana on the federal level is still considered a Schedule I dangerous drug even though it is being legalized in states across the country for medicinal and recreational purposes. A report from NewsMiner.com indicates that signs have even been posted at some Army bases to remind soldiers that the consumption of cannabis continues to be a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (The military of course are federal employees.)
John Pennell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Alaska, says the general’s statement was intended to protect the well being of its soldiers and prevent them from making a mistake that could end their careers. He said the threat of the marijuana businesses luring soldiers into their shops by dangling military discounts in front of them is too much of a risk for the Army not to take a stand.
“The community here is extremely supportive of the military,” Pennell said. “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.”
If anyone’s keeping track, there’s at least two levels of hypocrisy here. For the first, weed is legal in Alaska, just like, say, alcohol. (And we’re sure no Army general has ever had any problems with the abuse of that drug.) Secondly, banning even attendance at a cannabis-related event is hard to square with the U.S. Constitution (like the part in the First Amendment’s regarding the right to peaceable assembly), which is something the folks in the army are there to protect.
In any case, although Alaska legalized a recreational marijuana market a couple of years ago, there has been no legal retail weed available. Last week, Cynthia Franklin, Director of Alaska’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said the state’s pot market would likely be up and running by February 2017.
Pennell said the Army is simply trying to get ahead of potential problems.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to keep our soldiers out of legal trouble caused by a misunderstanding of the rules,” he said.
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