Troops, Civilians Still Face Consequences For Marijuana Use Despite Alaska Legalization

ALASKA:  In this week’s election, Alaska residents voted to pass Ballot Measure 2, which allows civilians in Alaska age 21 and older to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six marijuana plants. This measure must be acted upon and passed by the legislature before it will go into effect, so there is no known date of implementation.

However, though Alaska has voted to legalize marijuana, and regardless of the implementation date, the federal government and the military have not legalized the substance in any way. Service members are still subject to the Department of Defense zero-tolerance drug policy, regardless of the state in which they are stationed.

Drug testing programs will continue to screen for all drugs, including marijuana and spice, and the military will still prosecute for the same.

“The bottom line is that service members living in Alaska are still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 112a, which prohibits not just the use of marijuana, but also the possession, distribution and manufacture of the drug,” said Air Force Capt. Dayle Morell, chief of Military Justice at the 673d Air Base Wing Legal Office. “Additionally, marijuana and spice are still prohibited substances in federal law, and not permitted on base or in base housing with service members or their sponsored dependents and guests. Furthermore, troops who have civilian dependents, roommates or friends who are not subject to the UCMJ should remember that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’ – shared living spaces and vehicles could subject service members to further discipline. The onus is on the troops to ensure they are not putting themselves in a potentially illegal situation.”