Military News

Friday, October 09, 2015

Marijuana remains illegal according to federal law

by Staff Report
673 ABW

10/9/2015 - JOINT BASE Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- JOINT BASE Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. -- It's illegal to use, possess, grow, manufacture, and distribute marijuana on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The new Alaska state law doesn't change that.

Federal law takes precedence over state law.  While the passage of the February 24, 2015 Alaska State Ballot Measure 2 makes it legal under certain circumstances for state residents over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana; it's still illegal to use, possess, grow, manufacture or distribute the drug on any military installation.

Service members must understand the U.S. Armed Forces have a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs and that using or possessing marijuana on or off base is illegal.

Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice remains unchanged for all service members, including Reservists.  Article 112a specifically prohibits service members from using, possessing, manufacturing, or distributing marijuana under any circumstances, in any location, at any time, regardless of state or local laws.  Article 112a further prohibits the introduction of marijuana (along with all other controlled substances) into an installation, vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by or under the control of the U.S. Armed Forces, regardless of state and local laws.

Since the passage of Measure 2, the JBER Law Enforcement office has received many calls from service members and family members asking about the new Alaska state law and its impact on them.

According to Col. Brian Bruckbauer, JBER 673 ABW/CC, the most common questions are: Now that marijuana is legal in Alaska, how does that apply to dependents or service members off base? Can we smoke marijuana in on-base quarters? And if a dependent or guest uses marijuana off-base, and then comes on base, is that OK?

To answer the first question, The Department of Defense has not changed its policy regarding marijuana use. For DOD personnel its use is illegal wherever you are; service members are still subject to the UCMJ and all penalties still apply.

Commanders may take disciplinary action against service members for violating Article 112a regardless of the legality of the behavior in the location in which the behavior occurs.

It's still illegal to use marijuana anywhere on federal property and that includes military housing and barracks.

Service members, family members, employees, contractors and visitors should not try to use the new Alaska State law as an excuse for bringing or using marijuana on JBER.

Under federal law, it remains illegal for anyone to use, possess, grow or distribute marijuana on base, regardless of Alaska state law. Dependents, employees, contractors, and visitors will be subject to prosecution for marijuana-related offenses that occur on JBER, including in on-base quarters.

Regarding the question of military dependents and guests using marijuana off base and then coming on the installation, it's illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

If dependents or guests choose to use marijuana, it's in their system, if they drive on federal property, they can be charged with driving under the influence in U.S. Federal Court.

If, however, a military dependent or visitor uses marijuana off-base and then comes on base with it in their system, that's allowable as long as they are not driving and are not in possession of it.

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