Spice – unregulated synthetic marijuana – presents real and present risks, as well as negative health effects to our Sailors and Marines. As the newly launched campaign states, “It’s Not Legal. It’s Not Healthy. It’s Not Worth It.” And it’s not.
“It is paramount all Navy and Marine Corps personnel are aware of the adverse health effects of this drug,” said Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. “Serious side effects have been reported after its use including tremors, panic attacks, delirium, impaired coordination, seizures, paranoid hallucinations and psychotic symptoms that can last for days, even months in some cases.”
The synthetic chemicals in Spice-type products have a more potent effect on the brain than traditional marijuana, and the unregulated compounds are often mixed with unknown effects. According to Vice Adm. Robinson, these products are not approved for human consumption, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process. Similar to other drugs on the street, experts warn that no one ever knows what mixture of chemicals could be present in the drugs, and users are experimenting with the combination of multiple products which can dramatically change or increase its effects on a case-by-case basis.
Robinson warns that rapid tolerance in some users can lead to increased dosage and addiction. Additionally, the use of synthetic marijuana has led to a surge in emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers, according to the DEA. This past spring, Navy Medical professionals treated multiple patients at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Calif., for Spice usage, some resulting in months of inpatient treatment for persistent psychotic symptoms.
“It is not good enough to simply police our own actions with regards to Spice and other designer drugs,” said Robinson. “These drugs are dangerous and we learn more about their damaging effects each day. It is essential that every Sailor and Marine be looking out for their colleagues to prevent injury to their health and their careers.”