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Troops Get High on "Spice"

Synthetic marijuana—easy to find and hard to detect—is a growing problem for the US military.


Troops have taken to synthetic drugs. Photo via

By Luke Walker


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United Sates troops are increasingly abusing easily accessible synthetic drugs, such as "Spice." The synthetic marijuana substance—which despite recent federal bans is still commonly sold online—has become the drug of choice for many troops, because until recently it remained legal and undetectable in urine tests. Two years ago only 29 Marines and sailors were investigated for using "spice"; this past year the number topped 700. The Air Force also found 497 airmen guilty of using it, up from 380 the year before. Those caught may be discharged. Spice, often advertised thinly disguised as herbal incense, contains inactive ingredients like herbs or flowers, laced with synthetic chemicals designed to replicate the high of THC. These chemicals can be up to 200 times as potent as those found in pot. Drug tests may be thwarted, as no two batches of ingredients are alike, keeping military officials on their toes. So far only five of the two hundred chemicals used in spice are banned and tested for by the armed services. With new varieties being created daily, there’s no telling how the US will respond or keep up.

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