Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. - Washington voters legalized marijuana, but there are still places in the state where people can be arrested for pot possession. Business owner Chase Howard found that out the hard way when he tried to make a delivery on a military base.
On June 21, Howard arrived at the gate of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to install gym equipment in base housing. He pulled up to the guard gate and stepped out of the truck as he had on previous visits. He says a military police officer soon spotted about a gram of pot on the back floor of his pickup. Howard said he had completely forgotten about it. He says he uses marijuana occasionally, not while driving and not on the job. "The guy pokes his head in there like this and it looks like he just saw an arsenal of weapons in there," Howard told KIRO 7.
More officers arrived, arrested him for possession of a controlled substance and put him in cuffs. Howard said he kept his cool and even told the officers he had a little more pot in his bag. "I honestly felt like a criminal. I was treated like I just shot someone," Howard said.
Howard said he was eventually sent away with a citation and a letter saying he is not allowed on base. "I wasn't hurting anyone, I was just going to do my job, and boom I get arrested, get thrown in cuffs, it was a horrible experience, a two-and-a-half-hour ordeal," Howard said.
Marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law. Spokeswoman Emily Langlie of the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle wrote to KIRO 7 that cases are usually charged by citation, a misdemeanor that takes some time to process. While federal law allows up to a year in prison, fines are more likely. According to a December 2012 press release from U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, "Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses."
Spokespeople for Naval Base Kitsap did not return calls to KIRO 7.