Spice and the Military

If you’re a member of the United States Armed Forces the “spice” bit can really mess your life up and hinder your career in the nation’s military.

Sugar and spice, with a dash of everything nice, may get you a tasty cake; sounds like a great way to think about little girls. But if you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces the “spice” bit can really mess your life up and hinder your career in the nation’s military.

Let’s recap some basic information about Spice, the substance that’s newly emerging as a front runner to cause state lawmakers and politicians a significant increase in sleepless nights. “Spice – the New Cure for Governmental Narcolepsy! Order yours today since stock sells out rapidly!” Now there’s a press release we’d like to see! In this whimsical PR it would also be necessary to include the bare basics of  a Spice 101 tutorial and the psychopharmacology of this Spice.

In the past year, Spice (capitalized since it’s an actual product name – not like oregano) has come to be called “legal marijuana.” Why? Because it allegedly causes the same of euphoric intoxication similar to that of the cannabis-based flowering marijuana plant. The chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of around 400 psychoactive chemicals found in marijuana; it’s the one that causes the euphoric “high.”

Spice has many aliases on the Internet sites that sell it e.g.

  • Genie
  • Gonja
  • Diamond
  • Smoke Skunk
  • Yucatan Glow
  • K2
  • K3
  • Black Magic
  • Fay-zak (Fake Mazak)
  • Halo
  • Sativah
  • Loco

It’s all basically the same plant blends that’s meant to be smoked in papers or a hookah.

•    Spice contains no THC. Still, it’s illegal in several other countries, but not in all American states – yet. It can contain a substance called HU-210 – a controlled drug in the US per federal statutes because very early (and inconclusive) tests reveal that it may contain chemical traits that are hundreds of times more active than THC – this depends upon the whims and honesty of the supplier.

•    The presence of Spice in the human body is not detectible in standard drug testing. Not even in forensic hair follicle samples – other stimulant and narcotic drugs do register positively on drug tests.

In June of 2010, the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the US military branches came to an agreement in policy that possession, use, intoxication or distribution of Spice are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

If found guilty of any of these charges, a military member is subject to incarceration, loss of all pay and benefits, reduced in rank, and removed from the military with a Bad Conduct Discharge. Legal counsel for accused members tend to advocate a guilty plea for their client in exchange for a General Discharge and no incarceration; this saves the time and expense of a court martial. However, many defense attorneys (mostly civilian) and defendants vow to fight the good fight in the arena of a heated court martial. Their argument stems from the fact that a buyer of Spice has no idea whether or not it contains HU-210; not being a pharmaceutical, Spice’s ever-morphing formula isn’t monitored for purity by the FDA. Thus sayeth the Staff Judge Advocate for the Government: “Sergeant/Sailor/Soldier, if you didn’t know whether or not the stuff you bought actually had any HU-210 content that would cause intoxication, then for what purpose did you buy it?” Gotcha!

Well, not exactly. Sold only as a “smoking blend” of herbs, Spice is usually referred to by those who sell it and/or use it as an incense – even though its smoke smells bloody awful. Besides, the appellate attorneys are contending, common household solvents and cleaners like bleach, glue, and aerosols can cause a “high” if their vapors are inhaled. What, now we’re going to end soldiers’ careers and stash them in prison just for possessing laundry bleach? How about those acrylic nails salons on base? Gonna bust them too for using glue? Who’s going to pay for all these jails but Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer?

The future of Spice in the military is still very much undecided. The JCOS can make all the proclamations they wish, but the US Constitution as interpreted and applied by the US Supreme Court always holds the trump card. It’s safe to assume that the issue won’t be decided anytime soon. The next time you see a TV program that shows US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan hauling around those fearsome weapons and driving some really hot Humvees, ask yourself this question: “If those kids are high, can their actions in combat be negatively affected by this Spice stuff? Is this what I’m paying for?” In Vietnam, service members by the hundreds smoked marijuana and were addicted to heroin – we lost that war along with 58,000 young men barely old enough to shave.

Then ask yourself another question: Do today’s military members have the same rights as civilians when it comes to privacy, due process and personal freedom? Isn’t this why we sent them there – to hold aloft the torch of the greatest nation in the world? When and where do we draw the line between chemicals and substances that are legal in every American household and illegal stuff that we can’t have because the government says will harm us? Spice, with its lack of detection in current drug testing methods, its questionable HU-210 content, and its unknown abuse potential, just may be the new battlefield that decides this issue.