Fort Bragg community warned about the dangers of Spice

By Capt. Thomas Cieslak/16th MP Bde. PAONovember 18, 2010

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A recent XVIII Airborne Corps policy bans the use and possession of it, Bragg Boulevard smoke shops sell it and as of November it's legal in North Carolina. What are we talking about' Spice.

For all personnel assigned or attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps, Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids used to gain a high when introduced into the human body are prohibited. Violators of the policy signed by XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commander, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, will face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

As of early November, legislation has been introduced in North Carolina state government to make the dangerous substance illegal.

"The use of Spice is a work around to current illegal drug use,'' said Col. Chad McRee, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade and the top law enforcement official on Fort Bragg. "There is simply nothing good that comes from the use of Spice or any of the related synthetic cannabanoids except big profits for those distributing the drug."

Synthetic cannabis products reportedly first appeared in Europe in 2004. Originally sold as "Spice" by a company called "The Psyche Deli" in London, the substance has continued to rise in popularity since 2006. The term "Spice" eventually came to refer to all herbal mixtures with synthetic cannabinoids added to them. The substance tends to sell for about $30 to $40 a bag and can be easily mistaken for potpourri.

"Anything that places a Soldier in a position to black out, to think or act irrational is potentially bad for our Soldier's use," says McRee. "While we have stressed the use of alcohol in moderation over the years, there is very little about moderation that will change the horrible effects of synthetic cannanbanoids."

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recently issued a warning about the dangers of synthetic marijuana products. Elevated heart rate, nausea and confusion are known common symptoms of synthetic cannabinoids, with other symptoms such as agitation and anxiety being reported.

Soldiers have been lured by the current street legality of Spice and the fact it was once difficult to detect in drug screenings currently in use by the U.S military. Fort Bragg has recently begun testing for the substance at the request of unit commanders.

Numerous states throughout the United States of America have passed legislation to make it illegal and the Drug Enforcement Agency has dubbed Spice a "drug of concern." Additionally, no official, long-term studies have been conducted on the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human body, making the potential for harm from the substance very high.

"A Soldier "high on duty" endangers themselves and those around them," said McRee about the dangers of Soldiers using the drug.

Soldiers rely on each other for sound judgments, quick actions and determination, all of which are hindered by the use of mind-altering drugs, said McRee.