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Armed Forces Banned from Washington Pot Shops

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Armed Forces Banned from Washington Pot Shops

Recently dozens of businesses that sell recreational marijuana in Washington state have received some off-putting letters from the military. The letters state that the businesses are now considered to be off-limits to all active members of the armed forces and that they are hereby banned from purchasing cannabis products from the establishments.

The correspondence was sent out by The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board, which is in charge of any and all disciplinary action involving military personnel in the area. The letters read that any and all military personnel will be indefinitely prohibited from entering any of the businesses unless the proprietor agrees to discontinue the sale of marijuana and other similar substances.

This came as a shock to many businesses who received the letters, leaving them unsure of how to respond or what it could mean for the future of their business.

Joe Kubistek, a spokesperson for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, located near Tacoma, claims that 86 total letters were sent to businesses that received licenses to sell recreational marijuana under the voter-approved Initiative 502. This initiative allows for licensed businesses to sell marijuana for

recreational use to anyone above the age of 21.

“Despite the passage of Initiative 502,” explains Kubistek, “the use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of marijuana remains illegal for all service members at all times and locations.”

The letters state that the businesses that received them have been given a 30 day notice to present evidence to the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board to show that they have stopped selling any and all marijuana products to military personnel.

While this seems to be fairly straightforward for the military personnel involved, it has left many dispensaries questioning what they should do next.

Shawn Sortland, owner of Clear Choice Cannabis in Tacoma, received one of these letters and was unsure about what to do about the order.

“On one hand, we want to be in compliance. But we can’t discriminate against anybody,” said Sortland.

Sortland explains that the real trouble is identifying which of his customers are actually active members of the military, especially if they come into his shop wearing civilian clothing.

Sortland has sent his copy of the letter to his attorney for further review, and is awaiting response.

Hillary Bricken, a Seattle attorney who represents two of the marijuana businesses who received these letters, explains that the shops have absolutely no responsibility to inquire about the military status of any of their customers. However, the owners are still frightened over possible repercussions of not following through with the military demand.

“The Army is totally powerless to do anything to these businesses,” Bricken explains, “but that doesn’t stop my clients from freaking out.”

Kubistek has attempted to dissuade these feelings of unease among the marijuana business owners in Washington.

“The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board recognizes these businesses were established for the purpose of selling and distributing marijuana, within state guidelines, and had no intention of interfering with their business operations,” he wrote.

Kubistek further explains that letters similar to these are sent to other kinds of businesses that military personnel are banned from, including anything that has to do with drugs, prostitution, discriminatory practices or liquor violations. And because cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law, any store that sells cannabis or similar products will fall under this distinction.

Despite all of this, a military spokesperson has explained that the onus is on military members to know where they are off-limits from and to avoid the locations and businesses themselves.

While it seems to be clear that the military has no power to interfere with these businesses in any substantial ways, the owners of said shops are now more worried than ever about what will occur if a member of the military happens to enter their retail locations.

Are you in the military? What do you think of this rule? Tell us in the comments below.




    February 17, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Missouri Cannabis Reform is now supporting the MCRPA here in Missouri so we can put a stop to people being treated like this. I think its horrible we don’t give our troops the best and safest way to treat and maybe even cure many diseases. At least we are doing something to change things we are now gathering people to help collect signatures for the MCRPA to be on the 2016 ballot. If you would like to help in any way feel free to look up Missouri Cannabis Reform on FB or join our group from this link.

  2. Nat Turner

    February 17, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Isn’t it the “hypocrite way”? The military “protects” American rights, but isn’t allowed to enjoy the same.

  3. Eric

    February 16, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Only Washington state? That makes no sense. I guess serviceman and woman in Colorado are ok then

  4. Ramon

    February 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    These shops are just being informed that they are going to be or are on the blacklist.It is a common practice around military posts to keep soldiers from patronizing those businesses. They will send CID to stalk parking lots and watch for soldiers who still have to pee in a cup. Post up signs don’t serve any of them.They are government property and it could get ugly!

  5. D. Ace Ventura

    February 16, 2015 at 11:25 am

    That’s [email protected]!! If they want to get the service men in trouble for it then the military should do testing. Prosecute the ones who disobey, not the businesses, since its legal now. Most of the problem with this country is the DAMN GOVERNMENT, sticking their noses in sh#t it don’t belong in or pertains to. We suck as a nation right now, sending our younger generations to fight in a war, that should have been done with years ago & getting involved in things that WE as a COUNTRY have nothing to do with. Smarten up you “government” morons.

  6. sharry

    February 16, 2015 at 10:48 am

    IBelie American s need to have rights back not taken

  7. Eugene

    February 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Apparently the military didn’t think this one through. It should be up to the personell enlisted in the armed forces to judge if it’s worth it losing everything. It’s not right of them to put this kind of pressure on these businesses. I agree that enlisted military personnel shouldn’t have access to marijuana but people will be people and its going to happen regardless But it’s not the business owners responsibility To tell them what to and not to do.

    • Eugene

      February 16, 2015 at 8:59 am

      And to the moderator that approves this message… You’re awesome. In case no one has told you recently XD.

  8. silvestre rodriguez

    February 16, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Let’s make sum money

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