Stop: 'Spice' is Illegal

Story Number: NNS111122-11Release Date: 11/22/2011 1:30:00 PM
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Special from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick D. West

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy reemphasized to senior enlisted leaders that Sailors who use "Spice" will be separated, lose benefits and let down the Navy team.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West wants every Sailor to know that "Spice" is illegal, and he stated the following in a Personal For message to all command master chiefs, chiefs of the boat and command senior chiefs.

"Senior enlisted leaders,

Our Sailors continue to experience phenomenal personal and professional successes, exemplifying all it means to be a global force for good. I say with complete sincerity that the future of our force has never been brighter due to the inspiration, intelligence, and innovation of those honing their talents on the deckplates today. While there are abundant challenges facing us (force-shaping, budget constraints, and high operational tempo to name a few), we are deliberately working through those to ensure our warriors have every opportunity to excel.

A challenge that concerns me greatly though, and one we are compelled to confront head-on now, is the problem of synthetic cannabinoid use by far too many Sailors. This issue is not driven by money or manpower realities but by extremely poor personal choices, an alarming lack of awareness, and perhaps a false sense of security. While the name may change from "Spice" to K2 or countless other catchy street monikers, this drug is consistently bad news to both the Sailors using it and the Shipmates they are letting down.

Virtually every week in all-too-familiar SITREPS, we see detailed accounts of "Spice's" tangible impact on command manning and individual careers. Unfortunately message traffic can't capture the true toll on critical unit cohesion and mission readiness, or adequately articulate the drug's aftermath in terms of indelible personal consequences. Those most agonizing and private aspects often go untold to Shipmates, left to either inference or simple (but detrimental) disregard.

We need to erase that blind spot through continuous education, visible engagement, and transparent accountability. The Navy's stated policy on "Spice" is zero tolerance: Sailors who get caught using these substances go home under other than honorable conditions and suffer substantial losses to their veterans' benefits, and the fact of the matter is, those who use drugs eventually get caught. The terms are non-negotiable and irreversible: promising starts summarily decimated by bad decisions. The aggregate long-term effects of this trend on our service demands focused efforts by everyone wearing an anchor on their collars. Chief petty officers will make a difference.

If you're not already familiar with the pervasive and treacherously fashionable appeal of "Spice" derivatives or the very real health risks they pose, comprehensive information on the physiological effects and legal ramifications of "Spice" are readily available from a number of resources, including:

* Naval personnel command web site at;
* BUMED web site at;
* Drug enforcement agency (DEA) web site at; and
* National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) web site at

Our Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), another great resource for presentations and data, is intimately involved in the campaign to eradicate "Spice" by surveilling head shops and other locations known for selling the drugs. Your Sailors need to know NCIS is active in these places, vigilantly watching who comes and goes and what they purchase. NCIS stands ready to talk to your command about their "Spice" operations and measures you can implement to deter use. For assistance from NCIS, contact your ISIC, regional, or TYCOM command master chief.

In FY 2011, nearly 400 Sailors were processed for separation because they made a choice to use synthetic cannabinoids. In many cases, several Sailors made this calamitous decision together, sometimes under the influence of alcohol and other times because of peer pressure. They did it in hotel rooms, bars, barracks, and cars. They didn't know the regulations, deliberately opted to ignore them, or thought their use of "Spice" would not be detected. Regardless of the circumstances or thought process, these Sailors are no longer in the Navy; gone, along with incredible potential and promise, from our ships, squadrons, submarines, battalions, and shore commands.

We are charged with leading Sailors - it is what we do and do well with training, mentorship, personal example, and a commitment to good order and discipline. We attack challenges by developing situational awareness, coaching up our shipmates, capitalizing on resources and intervening when it's the right thing to do. With synthetic cannabinoids and the array of other precarious temptations (i.e. inhalants, steroids, and misuse of over-the-counter drugs), we have an obligation to help Sailors steer a safe course and prevent them from running aground.

Chiefs, anchor up! MCPON West sends."

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Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West talks with Sailors stationed at the Center for Information Dominance Unit Monterey and Naval Postgraduate School.
111108-N-TC628-157 MONTEREY, Calif. (Nov. 8, 2011) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West talks with Sailors stationed at the Center for Information Dominance Unit Monterey and Naval Postgraduate School. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan L. Guimont)
November 10, 2011
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