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Yuma air station bans trendy new drugs from base for Marines, civilians alike

8 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

A new station order signed March 19, 2010, closed a loophole formed by a Marine Forces Pacific order which banned Spice and Salvia Divinorum for service members but not civilians.

Station Order 5355.1 lists the substances as contraband, banning them from station grounds and outlining punishments for Marines and civilians caught with them.

Before the station order was signed, civilians could smoke Spice or salvia on station with no repercussions because the substances are not illegal in Arizona, said Virgil Tapispisan, station drug demand reduction program coordinator.

Marine Forces Pacific Order 5355.2-0001 banned military personnel from possessing, selling, using or distributing Spice and Salvia Divinorum, but did not affect civilian personnel or dependants.

Marines in violation of either order can be charged with failure to obey an order or regulation under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Under the authority of station commanding officer’s policy letter 03-10, civilian employees caught with the substances on station can face negative employment action, including termination, and permanent debarment from the station, said Lt. Col. Michael Sayegh, station staff judge advocate. Civilian visitors caught with the substances will be immediately escorted off station and may be permanently barred from the station as well.

“This is a fairly new drug trend,” said Tapispisan. “It’s not a controlled substance.”

The substances, which are known to induce a psychotropic “high” when ingested or smoked, aren’t currently regulated by the federal government and are readily available at local smoke shops, liquor stores and gas stations, said Tapispisan.

Spice, a mixture of herbs and spices, also contains synthetic cannabinoids that are much more powerful than THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The synthetics are not on the ingredients list of the product and are Schedule 1 drugs, meaning they are controlled substances that have no medicinal value, said Tapispisan.

Salvia Divinorum is a natural herb that was used by Native Americans in Mexico during spiritual rituals to induce an out-of-body experience. The active ingredient, Divinorin A, is extracted from the plant by chewing or smoking the leaves.

Spice is currently more common and readily available than salvia, said Tapispisan.

Since the signing of the MarForPac order, 15 incidents involving Marines either possessing or using Spice have occurred on station, said Tapispisan.

Tapispisan offers training on Spice, covering its effects, symptoms and chemical makeup.

For more information, refer to Station Order 5355.1, Commanding Officer’s Policy Letter 03-10 or contact the Tapispisan at 928-269-2791.

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