An increase in marijuana use among non-credentialed mariners in Alaska has trended up throughout the first half of 2020, according to Coast Guard Marine Safety Task Force investigators.
The 22% increase for the first half of the year tops last year’s 15%, which includes positive drug test results for individuals employed on vessels involved in serious maritime incidents. According to the USCG, federally-credentialed mariners are prohibited at all times from using marijuana or being under its effect.
Speculation grows as increasing violations of maritime law are investigated throughout the state and the increase in the number of positive test results in the Arctic region and Western Alaska. This comes as no great surprise since Alaska’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Even though the use of the “Devil’s Lettuce” has been legalized by our northernmost state, individuals are still prohibited by state and federal laws from use aboard commercial fishing vessels. Just as drinking and driving is against the law, the same rules apply.
Another concerning trend observed by the Safety Task Force relates to unserviceable or missing life-saving equipment aboard commercial fishing vessels. Mariners are required to have safety equipment aboard, ensure the equipment is maintained and in good condition, and be familiar with its use prior to an emergency.
It is possible that sailors were getting stoned and selling the equipment to feed their habit — or just that once used, the kit is not being properly replaced.