As part of a new Department of Defense (DoD) policy, the Navy began testing for synthetic marijuana compounds during random urinalysis, officials announced Dec. 31.
According to NAVADMIN 334/13, testing for synthetic marijuana compounds will be randomly conducted on samples submitted to all drug screening laboratories, and positive results will subject members to disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The Navy expects to test more than 1.1 million samples this year, and a portion of them will be screened for synthetic marijuana. Those that test potentially positive will be forwarded to the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory at Lackland, Texas for confirmation.
"We are testing synthetic cannabinoids - also known as Spice, K2, Herbal Essence and other names - within the standard testing panel conducted for urinalysis samples," said Lanorfeia Parker, deputy director, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office (NADAP).
The change will be largely transparent to the command, requiring no changes to the way they currently collect and ship urine samples for drug testing. In contrast to the Navy's previous synthetic drug testing program, no action is required by the command to have random synthetic drug testing performed on the samples that are submitted.
The DoD estimates that nearly 1 percent of military personnel may be using synthetic marijuana. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, illicit marijuana use among active duty military personnel was 0.43 percent and for the entire DoD the prevalence rate was 0.64 percent. FY 2013 testing for Navy personnel indicated that .09 percent of all samples were positive for marijuana.
If a member uses, possesses, promotes, manufactures or distributes synthetic drugs, they face disciplinary action that could result in unfavorable separation from the Navy. According to Parker, the Navy's policy on substance abuse is zero tolerance.
"Substance abuse puts lives and missions at risk, undercuts unit readiness and morale, and is inconsistent with our Navy ethos and core values of honor, courage, and commitment," said Parker.