Those were the clear and concise words from a man who investigates offenses on Fort Irwin involving “Spice” – a controlled substance that is being used by Soldiers at this military installation. Special Agent Scott Baillargeon, team chief for the Drug Suppression Team with Criminal Investigation Division, here, said that leadership at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin are disappointed by Soldiers using or possessing Spice, and that leadership has no tolerance for law breakers.
Use or possession of Spice is punishable under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. Soldiers can be charged and convicted of either a felony offense or a failure to obey a general order. A conviction of either charge usually leads to a discharge from the military for the Service Member, said Baillargeon, who is an Army Warrant Officer.
In May, Secretary of the Army John McHugh issued a memorandum that defined Spice as a controlled substance. The memorandum states that Army personnel are prohibited from using, possessing, manufacturing, selling, distributing, importing, into or exporting from the United States any controlled substance.
Army Regulation 600-85 “The Army Substance Abuse Program” states that Soldiers are prohibited from using controlled substances. The regulation also states that violators are subject to punishment under the UCMJ. The UCMJ section 10USC 912a Art. 112a describes offenses regarding wrongful use, possession, etc., of controlled substances .
So what exactly is Spice? According to Baillargeon, there are hundreds of Spice combinations and they are made to resemble marijuana. The article “Spice, Bath salts, and the U.S. Military: The Emergence of Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists and Cathinones in the U.S. Armed Forces” appeared in the September 2012 issue of “Military Medicine” and described Spice as an inert, dry plant material sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists. Spice can be smoked in paper or through a pipe device.
Baillargeon said that Spice gives users a high similar to marijuana, but effects can be different for each user. It can even cause hallucinations.
“It’s not good for you,” Baillargeon said. “It’s made in a lab.”
According to “Military Medicine,” the most common physical complaints associated with the use of Spice are nausea and vomiting. However, cardiovascular effects including elevated heart rate, hypertension, chest pain, and even cardiac ischemia have been reported. The article goes on to state that as with cannabis, there may be a link between synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and psychosis. The article states that the JWH class of Spice has a greater affinity to cannabinoid receptors and is significantly more potent than THC (the chemical in marijuana). Three JWH and two CP classes of Spice are considered schedule 1 drugs, said Baillargeon.
Baillargeon said that the five Spice combinations considered schedule 1 drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency can lead to a felony offense for Soldiers. Other Spice combinations lead to failure to obey a general order. Either way, once an investigation is commenced, Soldiers’ information is inputted into a federal database that is accessed by agencies conducting background checks. Life outside the Army with a Spice offense conviction could be challenging.
But life inside the Army does not have to involve Spice. The directive issued by McHugh states that the use of controlled substances is inconsistent with the values of the U.S. Army. They are hazardous to the mission of the Army, the health of the user, and the safety of the Army community.
Agents such as Baillargeon and the law enforcement community on Fort Irwin have a mission to keep the installation safe. By combating the epidemic of Spice use and possession, law enforcement and leadership are making Fort Irwin safer, and at the same time removing Soldiers who are not compatible with the Army Profession. Baillargeion said that with the forthcoming reductions in force, leadership is not shying away from “throwing the book” at drug users.