Eighth midshipman expelled for having synthetic marijuana

Naval Academy continues investigation into 'spice,' which is banned by the Navy

February 28, 2011|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

An eighth midshipman was expelled from the Naval Academy last week as a result of an investigation into the use of the banned substance known as spice, the superintendent's office announced Monday.

Also on Monday, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration filed a final notice that will outlaw the sale of the five chemicals used in herbal blends to make synthetic marijuana, including spice. The chemicals will be banned for sale for at least a year.

A Naval Academy spokeswoman said the investigation into use of spice at the service academy is continuing. Seven midshipmen were expelled in January for alleged use or possession of spice, for which the academy has a "zero tolerance" policy.

Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, the academy superintendent, released a statement taking a hard line on the drug.

"Our standards are clear — spice has no place at USNA or in the naval service," he said. "Our purpose is to produce leaders, and as such, we will not graduate or commission any illicit drug user — this type of character flaw is simply incompatible with leading the sailors of the 21st Century."

Federal drug officials announced plans for an emergency measure to ban the chemicals in November amid increasing reports of bad reactions in users — including seizures, hallucinations and dependency.

The fake marijuana, sold in drug paraphernalia shops and on the Internet, is marketed under various brands, including Spice, K2, Blaze and Red X Dawn. The products contain organic leaves coated with chemicals that provide a marijuana-like high when smoked.

Spice has been a problem in districts in Maryland. Spice, and similar products that mimic marijuana, have been banned in Baltimore County, where anyone caught in possession of it or attempting to sell or distribute it faces a fine of $500 and 60 days in jail or both.

A ban is also under consideration in Baltimore City, which would include the same penalties.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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