A type of synthetic marijuana, called Spice, is by far the drug of choice for active-duty Army personnel, according to a press release about a University of Washington study of soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Spice, a mixture of shredded plant material and chemicals designed to mimic THC, is extremely difficult to test for as Spice producers continuously change the drug’s compounds to evade U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration bans.
This difficulty in screening for Spice holds a strong appeal for military personnel. Although only one third of participants in the University of Washington study reported using illicit drugs, 38% of drug users had smoked Spice.
Doree Armstrong, writing for the University of Washington, notes:
Study participants told researchers they believed that use of synthetic marijuana was significantly higher in the military than in the civilian population. It was the only substance that soldiers believed they used more than civilians, which supports the idea that synthetic marijuana is particularly attractive to military personnel.
There was no noticeable difference in Spice abuse based on ethnicity, race, deployment history, or religion. However, Spice users tended to be single and earned less money than those who used other drugs or alcohol.
The military has recently announced its development of a urinalysis test that can detect synthetic marijuana; however, the success rate of detection is still low.
Spice is banned across all branches of the U.S. military.
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