AFSOC: Use Spice, may lose career

Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

The Air Force began drug testing airmen on Feb. 22 to determine whether they are using Spice — the street term for a range of designer synthetic-cannabinoid products. The Hurlburt Field and Cannon Air Force Base Drug Demand Reduction offices are in full compliance with the Air Force requirement and are currently testing airmen for Spice use at both installations.

With the implementation of testing, officials intend to send a very clear message: Use Spice and you may lose your career, end up in jail or both.

“The use of spice or any other banned substance has absolutely no place in Air Force Special Operations Command,” said Chief Master Sgt. William Turner, AFSOC command chief master sergeant. “The use of these types of drugs severely impacts our ability to do the mission, and in our business that means people’s lives could be put at risk, which is unacceptable.”

Use of these substances is strictly prohibited for airmen. The prohibition is contained both in AFI 44-120, Military Drug Demand Reduction Program and the AF Guidance Memorandum to AFI 44-121, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program.

Airmen who use Spice are subject to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Air Force officials have taken disciplinary action against airmen identified as using Spice and continue to aggressively enforce the prohibition through courts-martial and nonjudicial punishment.

In 2010, 177 airmen received nonjudicial punishment for using Spice and another 83 airmen faced Spice charges at courts-martial.

“Spice, also commonly referred to as herbal incense, is mistakenly perceived by some airmen as a legal or safe alternative to marijuana,” said Dr. Aaron Jacobs, the Air Force Drug Testing program manager.

Side effects can include panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions, vomiting, increased agitation and dilated pupils, he said.

“Additional harmful effects are still unknown, so individuals are taking significant risks to their health when they use Spice,” he said.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials recently took steps toward listing five chemicals used to make Spice as schedule I controlled substances, meaning they will be illegal to possess, distribute or manufacture in the U.S.

According to the DEA website, this action was taken as an emergency measure due to an increasing number of reports from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement agencies regarding these products.

Air Force Drug Testing Lab technicians will utilize the expertise of the Armed Forces Medical Examiners Systems to conduct the specialized testing.

Additional information on the command policy can be found at the AFSOC official web page at www.afsoc.af.mil.