Base legal warns drug use by base civilians punishable offense

  • Published
  • By Charles MacDonald
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate Office
Despite rumors to the contrary, all civilian family members and base employees who use drugs are subject to administrative sanctions available to base authorities, even if such "soft" drugs are legal in the Netherlands.

Civilians considering purchasing, using, selling or transporting drugs, such as marijuana, while in the Netherlands can be punished for those actions because of their association with the base.

Possible punishment

Administrative sanctions can include, but are not limited to, dependent misconduct hearings, loss of privileges, community service and restriction to or being barred from base. Additionally, civilian employees are subject to disciplinary action and could lose their jobs or security clearance if they have one.

The sanctions for dependents and civilian employees apply even if the use of "soft" drugs is legal in the country where the drugs were consumed. While use of soft drugs, such as marijuana or hallucinogenic mushrooms, may not be against the law in the Netherlands, people associated with the base, such as a military members, family members or civilian employees, may face punishment for using them. This is regardless of citizenship, where the user was located when they took the drugs or whether or not the users were sober when they returned to the base.

German drug laws

Use or possession of both soft and hard drugs is illegal in Germany and subjects the drug abuser to German criminal penalties, as well as administrative actions available to the Air Force.

Both non-appropriated fund and civil service employees who use or are found in possession of illegal drugs are subject to disciplinary action. Possession and/or use of illegal drugs are offenses specifically identified in both the non-appropriated fund and civil service disciplinary action table of penalties. Discipline can include removal from employment in accordance with the U.S. government's "zero tolerance" policy on employee use of illegal drugs.

Base policy

Spangdahlem Air Base Instruction 51-1001 covers sanctions available to the commander to deal with dependent misconduct. For civilian NAF employees, Air Force Manual 34-310 states that first-time use or possession of any drug can result in a penalty of reprimand to removal from employment. Base officials have removed a number of NAF employees for drug involvement, and many of those cases started in the Netherlands. For civilian appropriated fund employees, AFI 36-704 calls for a penalty of reprimand or removal from employment of a civilian employee who possesses or uses illegal drugs.

In general, commanders may do anything not prohibited by law, regulation or AFI, to protect the installation. The possible introduction or use of drugs on a military installation is something that commanders are allowed, if not required, to combat. SABI 51-1001 lists things commanders can do to deal with civilian drug abuse on an installation.
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