Spice â€” also known by names such as K2, Spice Gold, Bliss, and Solar Flare â€” is a synthetic drug made by spraying a manmade version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, onto dried herbs.Â The last several years have seen a spike in its use across the country, including among military members.Â It has often been sold in smoke shops, liquor stores and on websites in prepackaged bags marketed as legal substances such as incense or potpourri.Â The ingredients in Spice can cause a variety of side effects, including convulsion, anxiety attacks, racing heart rates, and seizures.
In response to this growing threat to the Armyâ€™s readiness, Secretary of the Army John McHugh issued a memo prohibiting the use of Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids in February 2011, building on previous command-level injunctions against the drug.Â Spice is now prohibited across the military.
â€œThese regulations are for the safety of Soldiers and family members,â€ said Ronney Hester, Fort Irwinâ€™s Army Substance Abuse Program manager.Â â€œThese substances are dangerous and not regulated.â€
In March 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned all â€œfake potâ€ drugs, including Spice.
â€œYoung people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous â€˜fake potâ€™ products and wrongly equate the products’ â€˜legalâ€™ retail availability with being â€˜safeâ€™,â€ said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in a press release.
Another class of synthetic drugs, those containing a chemical called mephedrone that is touted as a cocaine substitute, are also banned by the military and DEA.Â One of the most popular of these drugs, referred to as bath salts, can cause extreme paranoia, recurring suicidal tendencies, and kidney problems.Â Reports have been made of people under the influence of bath salts experiencing delusions so extreme that they have leapt into traffic and attempt to scratch off their own skin.Â Bath salts are often sold in jars or vials labeled â€œnot for human consumptionâ€ in an attempt to thwart authorities.
Soldiers found to be in possession of or having used Spice, bath salts, or other drugsâ€”including prescription drugs for which they do not have a current prescriptionâ€” will be subject to action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.Â A Soldierâ€™s chain of command can order specific testing for Spice and bath salts.
â€œThese are definitely not substances you want to be taking,â€ Hester said.
For more information about Spice, bath salts, or the Armyâ€™s drug policy, call Fort Irwin ASAP at 380-1366 or visit http://acsap.army.mil.