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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — About 120 junior enlisted sailors at Sasebo Naval Base were tested Tuesday for synthetic marijuana.

The test of all base personnel E-4 and below was ordered by base commander Capt. Charles Rock, base spokesman Charles Howard said in an email. No positive tests prompted the testing.

The drug, commonly called Spice, is sold openly in Japan, but is off-limits to servicemembers. “This is the first time [Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo sailors] have been tested for Spice,” Howard wrote to Stars and Stripes. “E-4 and below were chosen for no particular reason.”

The justification for the test came from a March 12 Navy directive that implemented testing for synthetic chemical compounds like Spice using the same model as steroid testing. The “Navy has zero tolerance for drug abuse,” the directive said. “Drug abuse (including the use of designer and synthetic compounds) by members of the Navy is incompatible with the maintenance of high standards of performance, military discipline, readiness, and reliable mission accomplishment.”

Sailors found using Spice and other synthetic compounds face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and separation from the military.

Howard said he did not know how long it takes to process the samples.

The Navy launched an anti-Spice campaign in November amid the separation late last year of 92 sailors for Spice use and distribution.

burkem@pstripes.osd.mil

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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