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The U.S. Defense Department will start randomly testing service members for synthetic marijuana, the Air Force News Service reports.

“The message we’re getting out now is that when you participate in our random urinalysis program, synthetic marijuana products or synthetic marijuana will now be tested along with our other drugs,” Army Lt. Col. Tom Martin, who heads the  department’s drug testing program, said in a news release. “It’s been known in the general population, both in the medical community and various media reports, that synthetic marijuana drug use is a serious health concern.”

He said that while the military generally has a much lower level of drug use than society at large, synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, “still poses a significant risk to both the safety and readiness of our force.”

The military also randomly tests service members for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and Ecstasy, as well as prescription drugs including oxycodone, hydrocodone and benzodiazepines.

“Any service member who tests positive for either an illicit drug or misuse of a prescription drug falls under any actions deemed appropriate under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well actions that are appropriate as deemed by their commander,” Martin said.

Efforts to educate members of the U.S. military about the dangers of synthetic drugs, coupled with improved drug testing, are starting to have an effect, the Navy Times reported in November. The Navy and Marine Corps reported a drop in members using Spice and bath salts.

The Defense Department first began responding to use of synthetic drugs in the military in 2010. The department banned the compounds, and began to develop tests for them. In 2012, the military started an awareness campaign about synthetic drugs.


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