YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A month after kicking out 64 sailors for using synthetic marijuana, the Navy announced Monday that another 28 are getting the boot for similar infractions.
The 28 sailors — all from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan — were caught red-handed, according to a Navy news release.
The dismissal announcement reinforces recent military campaigns to stop troops from smoking fake pot, often called Spice, a catch-all name for a designer drug that mimics the effect of marijuana.
The message: Use Spice and face court-martial.
On Oct. 20, the Navy announced that 64 sailors from the San-Diego based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the USS San Francisco and the USS Arco would be separated from the Navy for Spice use and distribution.
The Navy launched a new campaign earlier this month emphasizing the potential harmful side effects and unregulated nature of Spice.
“Spice causes elevated blood pressure, tremor, seizures, vomiting, abdominal pain and more,” according to Navy Medicine’s website.
The Marine Corps is encouraging tipsters to report suspected Spice use to command officials, while the Air Force airs warnings about the legal repercussions for those caught with synthetic marijuana.
Smoking and distributing Spice is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And in March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration placed five chemical compounds commonly found in Spice on its Schedule I substances list of illegal narcotics, which it reserves for drugs with high abuse potential and no commonly accepted medicinal value.
Spice and other designer drugs are available at some overseas ports and in countries such as Japan where U.S. forces are based.
The military has declared war on Spice, but is still developing a widespread test for the drug. It’s a problematic proposition considering the way Spice — which contains no THC — is made. Manufacturers often tweak the chemical compounds they use to produce Spice. The process allows the chemical to retain its marijuana-inducing effect but technically changes its structure, making it hard to test for and regulate.