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Army bans Alaska soldiers from attending marijuana festivals and events

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: October 18, 2016
  • Published September 22, 2016

Ryan Smith shows off a grow tent at the Northwest Cannabis Classic trade show, held at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in May 2015. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

The U.S. Army on Thursday banned Alaska-based soldiers from attending cannabis-related events and festivals.

The policy was put in place by Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, who commands Alaska's active-duty Army soldiers, said John Pennell, chief of media relations for U.S. Army Alaska.

The prohibition extends to "marijuana, cannabis or hemp fairs, festivals, conventions and similar events," Army Alaska said in a statement.

"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.

"We're trying to make sure that we do everything that we can to keep the soldiers informed of what would get them in trouble," Pennell said.

The policy was put in place as a pre-emptive move, Pennell said, and also because a few cannabis organizations in Alaska have offered military discounts.

"It's well-meaning people who are trying to reach out because they support the soldiers and their families," Pennell said.

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve in Alaska, with the first marijuana retail stores approved by the state in mid-September, Pennell said it's expected that cannabis-related events will become more common.

The policy applies to U.S. Army soldiers who are stationed in Alaska, Pennell said.

It doesn't apply to the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, he said.