New Defense Department rules on testing service members for synthetic marijuana won't cause extra work for you or your command, but they will mean more sailors will be screened — and could get busted — for taking spice and similar drugs. (Mike Morones/Staff)
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New Defense Department rules on testing service members for synthetic marijuana won’t cause extra work for you or your command, but they will mean more sailors will be screened — and could get busted — for taking spice and similar drugs.
Testing for the drugs will be done at random on all urine samples collected as part of the Navy’s regular drug-screening program, according to a fleetwide message, NAVADMIN 334/13, released Dec. 30. Under the previous program, which started in early 2012, commands had to request random tests for the synthetics be performed on the samples, according to a Navy news release.
Tests for the drugs — with names like spice, K2, and Black Mamba — have improved in recent years, although drug manufacturers continue to alter the molecular compounds slightly to avoid detection. Some of these products may be marketed with labels touting “natural” or “safe” ingredients, but could still pop positive on a test and are covered regardless under the Navy’s zero-tolerance drug policy.
Five of the most common compounds used in such drugs were declared illegal by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012.
Despite education efforts across the services — the Navy produced an anti-spice cartoon in December, for example — synthetic marijuana is more popular in the military than the real thing. DoD estimates about 1 percent of service members may be using synthetic drugs, compared with 0.64 percent using marijuana.
Fake or no, a positive test for either substance has the same result: A sailor will get kicked out of the Navy. “Those found to be drug dependent will be offered treatment prior to their separation,” the message states.