16 Bataan sailors discharged for spice use

(MILITARY TIMES)    Sixteen sailors assigned to the Norfolk-based amphibious assault ship Bataan are getting the boot for using or dealing the service-banned synthetic marijuana generally known as “spice,” the Navy confirmed Thursday.

The busts follow an eight-week investigation launched in November aboard the huge warship, according to Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for Surface Force Atlantic.

Fifteen of the sailors were given nonjudicial punishment for failing to obey the Navy’s ban on spice and are or will be administratively discharged. Urban, correcting earlier information that all 16 had been so punished, subsequently reported that a 16th sailor was convicted at a summary court-martial aboard Bataan for failing to obey the ban, as well as for alcohol abuse and unauthorized absence, and also is being discharged.

“The Navy has a zero tolerance policy on drug abuse,” Urban said in a statement. “Drug use undercuts unit readiness and morale, and is inconsistent with our Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.”

The busts, first reported by Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot newspaper, come during a week when the Navy has made a proactive effort to publicize and stem a growing problem with spice, a marijuana-like herbal blend that can be smoked and is sold under a wide variety of names. It yields a euphoric high, but can produce anxiety attacks or worse in some users.

According to Fleet Forces Command, as of Jan. 26, at least 151 sailors Navy-wide had been accused of using or caught with spice over the past four months, with 79 of those in Fleet Forces Command. Figures for previous years have not been made available.

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