Navy and Air Force families receive training about synthetic drugs

The Criminal Investigative Division at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, displays examples of seized evidences of synthetic drugs, commonly known as “Spice” as part of an awareness campaign and training against its use. U.S. Navy photo by MC2 (SW) Mark Logico

Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

The use and availability of synthetic drugs such as Spice and bath salts remains a problem for the armed forces. To increase awareness of these sorts of drugs, Lt. j.g. John White, Region Legal Service Office Hawaii, conducted a seminar recently for Navy and Air Force spouses and ombudsmen at Sharkey Theater.

White previously conducted similar sessions for active duty members, but this was his first specifically for family members.

“It went well,” White said. “The audience was very attentive and asked many questions.”

According to White, many attendees had heard of Spice and bath salts, but didn’t really know any details about the drugs.

“They were interested in learning about the side effects,” he said. “They also wanted to know about availability, especially for kids.”

The easy availability of synthetic drugs is a major factor in their widespread use. These types of drugs are available online, at convenience stores, and at so-called head shops. In addition, the manufacturers are often adept at skirting the law or attempts at regulation.

“Access is much greater than for other drugs,” said White. “Synthetic drugs can be sold as bath salts or jewelry cleaner or potpourri. These products seem benign, but not to people in the know. Also, the drug makers can tweak their formulas to bypass laws.”

Most synthetic drugs are now illegal under federal and Hawaii laws, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The military’s efforts to combat the use of synthetic drugs appear to be working. On the Navy side, White credits joint efforts between his office, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and medical professionals.

“We are working together to get the message out,” he said. “Sailors are much more educated about synthetic drugs. We have had fewer positive urinalysis results.”

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Category: News