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“Bath salts” are the latest synthetic drug to gain popularity among Marines, a development that concerns health officials. The Marine Corps is already wrestling with synthetic marijuana, or Spice.

There is no way yet to screen for bath salts use, according to the Marine Corps Times. “It’s one of the reasons why these substances appear so popular in the military,” noted Navy Lieutenant George Loeffler, Chief Psychiatry Resident at Naval Medical Center San Diego. “They actually market it to the fact that that they don’t pop positive on the standard urine drug screen.” Synthetic drugs can be purchased in many places, including gas stations, he added.

Loeffler said the next generation of synthetic drugs, which contain chemicals such as naphyrone, are even more worrisome, because they are more potent, with longer-lasting effects.

The Defense Department banned the use of Spice in 2010, the article notes. Earlier this year, the U.S. military began a campaign to spread awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs. In April, the Navy began random testing for synthetic marijuana. The Marine Corps has not yet instituted this type of drug testing.

Testing for synthetic drugs is difficult because there are hundreds of varieties. Manufacturers are constantly changing their formulas to get around regulations from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which temporarily banned five chemicals used in making synthetic marijuana.

A recent bizarre incident in Miami, in which a man stripped naked and ate the face of another man, while allegedly high on bath salts, has renewed calls for banning synthetic drugs. Both the House and Senate have passed bills banning the drugs, but so far have not been able to pass an identical bill.

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