Spice use incompatible with military mission
By Senior Airman Michael Charles, Nellis Public Affairs
/ Published December 15, 2010
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Nellis and Creech are focal points of the testing and training of tactics for the Air Force due to the exercises conducted on the Nevada Test and Training Range.
These unique missions require Airmen who are prepared, both mentally and physically, to take on the challenge of not only training for current overseas contingencies, but executing them as well. For the past year, Nellis has waged a war on a substance that can affect Airmen's abilities to effectively accomplish the mission--synthetic cannabis, commonly known as spice.
Spice, which is sometimes marketed as incense, is a mixture of herbs that can be ingested via a variety of methods, but is most commonly smoked. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, the synthetic compound present in the drug creates a psychoactive reaction similar to Marijuana.
"The Air Force has seen a rise in spice use on installations during the past year," said Capt. Trae Patterson, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center judge advocate. "Its growth in popularity in the civilian sector with college students and individuals looking for an alternative to marijuana has made it more accessible to our Airmen."
In January 2010, Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, former U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, issued an order banning the use of spice, salvia divinorum, and salvinorin in any form by members of the Nellis and Creech Air Force Base communities. The General Order prohibited inhaling, smoking, chewing, consuming or introducing the drugs into the body in any manner. The order also prohibited the purchase, distribution or possession of all three substances. The Air Force followed with a service-wide ban of the substances in June and added inhalants, household chemicals, solvents and prescription drug abuse to the list of prohibited items.
Recently, the Air Force got help in its battle against such drugs. Nov. 24, the DEA used its emergency powers to implement a one-year ban of the use of spice, salvia divinorum and salvinorin. Federal law allows the DEA to ban substances posing a threat to the health of citizens, while a formal review process is being conducted. The action makes it illegal to buy or sell the ingredients used to create the products until they finish the review. At the completion of the formal review process, the DEA and Department of Health and Human Services will determine whether the chemicals should be permanently banned.
"Commanders take drugs very seriously," Captain Patterson said. "Investigative agencies like AFOSI and security forces have stepped-up counter narcotic measures to prevent Airmen from using these banned drugs."
Spice use is punishable under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and carries a maximum penalty of a dishonorable discharge, two years confinement, reduction to the grade of E-1, and total forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Nellis and Creech have had more than 30 Airmen of all ranks brought to trial by court-martial or punished under Article 15 for spice-related use. Further, under Air Force instructions, any drug abuse results in a mandatory discharge recommendation by the member's commander.