Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Spice" Problem On Boats?

Word on the street is that Pearl Harbor is having a problem with young Submariners using "Spice", a "synthetic" collection of herbs that reportedly produces a pot-like high. While it's not outlawed in the U.S. (except in Kansas), the Navy banned its use in March of this year.

Clearly, drug use and submarining don't mix. (Unless, of course, you consider alcohol to be a drug.) On USTAFISH, I remember one guy running out of the Fan Room right after we got underway, yelling that there were spiders in there. We laughed and gave him a hard time, and it was only when his next urinalysis came back that we realized that he really was hallucinating spiders.

While the libertarian part of me wonders if maybe the Navy is a little too intrusive with what Sailors do on their own time, the still-present authoritarian part of me thinks that overall it's a Good Thing that the Navy does their best to keep Sailors on the straight and narrow -- to a certain extent. What do you think?

45 Comments:

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Spice looks pretty dangerous. Back when I was in PH, the "in-thing" was ecstasy. And if you ratted someone else out, zero tolerance meant reduction in rate to E-3. 30 days confinement at Navsta, and new orders to a different boat.

I wonder how they enforce the no-spice rule. Is there a UA for it? Or is it one of those underage drinking things-- no violation until you get a DUI...

5/13/2010 8:44 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No UA for it, but the force is certainly taking it seriously. 4 guys off a Bangor boat recently got caught with it, and my understanding is that they're being OTH-ed out

5/13/2010 9:35 AM

 
Anonymous STSC said...

NOT in MY NAVY.

5/13/2010 9:38 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Nukes and drugs don't mix, libertarian philosophy or not. I've had many a morning coming back to the boat hung over, where it wouldn't be tolerated today in either a civilian or a Navy nuke plant. I remember when the OTH discharge was just CPO's and Officers, then dropped to E-5, then E-4, then everybody. Can't follow the rules, out you go.

5/13/2010 10:50 AM

 
Blogger 630-738 said...

The Navy is certainly too intrusive into sailor's private lives in many areas, but drug use is not one of them. There is no place for drug use in the military, period. BZ to the Navy for getting ahead of the game on this. I sure as hell wouldn't want someone on my boat standing watch or doing maintenance high on "Spice", or any other substance.

5/13/2010 10:51 AM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

How is UA done these days in PH? I remember that there were no UA on WESTPAC, and if you weren't on the boat when your name/number was called, there was no make-up or return to boat.

Back in the late 1990's my boat took every excuse not to do UA. I think in 3 years, I did it maybe twice.

At NPTU, that was a different story. I think I had 4 UA in 3 weeks once. Weed-em-out early I guess...

5/13/2010 10:59 AM

 
Blogger Micah Seymour said...

Didn't these kids ever read Dune?

5/13/2010 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spice is looking bad out here. One boat has 20 people implicated. We can NOT test for it, and if you look up the websites, they offer to ship to FPO/APO addresses.
Right now we have a NAVADMIN outlawing "designer drugs that increase or decrease central nervous system function..." Most commands have page 13's. Violators are getting UCMJ Art.92 charges. The JAG is in debate over whether we can seperate or not. (Nucs get tossed, but maybe not the A-gangers) The concensus in the CPOA here is that every boat and ship out here has someone on board doing it. The biggest issue is that it is legal in town.
Interestingly, if you cut out the first part of the discussion, and look at the paragraph defining the "Drug", it could apply to alcohol or nicotine.

5/13/2010 12:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF is "UA", if not "Unauthorized Absence"? Urinalysis? I have never seen that acronym used for it.

ELT, I can't believe that anyone could go 3 years on a boat and only have one tiwce. I had 4 in one WEEK on Ustafish, PH in the mid-80's. At one point, on a weekly op to the Big Island for a port call, we had Squadron One weenies come aboard on the first tender and none of us could leave until we all went peepee in the bottle. Every time they tested, they would find someone, so they would then do a unit sweep, get someone else, and so on and so on. This went on for a few months until when they must have gotten everyone using, because we didn't have any more positives for a while.

5/13/2010 12:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the USTAFISH?

5/13/2010 2:32 PM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

WTF is "UA", if not "Unauthorized Absence"? Urinalysis? I have never seen that acronym used for it.

ELT, I can't believe that anyone could go 3 years on a boat and only have one tiwce. I had 4 in one WEEK on Ustafish, PH in the mid-80's. At one point, on a weekly op to the Big Island for a port call, we had Squadron One weenies come aboard on the first tender and none of us could leave until we all went peepee in the bottle. Every time they tested, they would find someone, so they would then do a unit sweep, get someone else, and so on and so on. This went on for a few months until when they must have gotten everyone using, because we didn't have any more positives for a while


UA is also referred to as urinalysis. At least in the non-Navy world-- try going to the doctor for a physical and ask if you have to do UA and see what they say. Wikipedia Article on Urinalysis

I heard once that on the boat (late 1990's) that an early nuke attrition took the pipeline over 4 years to catch up. With that, and the CO's retention goals (tied directly to his promot-ability), even one early attrition hurt the CO's numbers pretty badly and could be fatal in making 0-6.

My theory is that they stopped doing UA as frequently because they really didn't want to know. If your best MM2(Nuc) pops for smoking some weed on leave, they'd rather keep the MM2 then to loose him to the civilian land. At the time, it seemed like the only way to get out of the Navy early was to go AWOL/UA then smoke some weed, then come back to the boat 29 days later. The boat was compelled to give you a drug test after AWOL/UA, and it was the only such one that they couldn't hide.

I suspect it was all in the climate. My AF JAG buddy tells me these horror stories about sending E2's to prison for 2 years (general court martial - FELONY) for getting caught on a UA with cocaine, when in most civilian jurisdictions, it wouldn't warrant anything but rehab (and probation with a misdemeanor). The climate in the AF is different than the Navy, but from the sounds of it, the AF doesn't seem to have any problems meeting retention goals, where the [forward-deployed maybe??] submarine retention goals for nukes are harder to meet. Why else would the re-enlistment bonuses be so high??

Anyone else from PH (between 1995 and 2001) want to chime in here??

5/13/2010 2:39 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

USTAFISH = The boat I "usta" (used to) be on.

5/13/2010 2:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the late 80s we had an A-ganger go on leave for two weeks and come back for what was supposed to be a few weeks, then off to seps. As soon as he got in from leave, he was given a UA. Positive for coke. Punishment: Restricted to boat for 60 days (yes, beyond EAOS), then OTH.

5/13/2010 3:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just a problem in Hawaii, friend...

5/13/2010 5:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Health professionals consider alcohol a drug, and so do I. Shipboard use of any drug should not be allowed at any time. However, ashore and off-base and off-duty, I am more tolerant of "recreational" drug use. You can usually find me in a bar on Fridays and Saturdays ingesting my drug of choice.

Frankly, I don't care if people use spice, or for that matter, marijuana, or any other minor intoxicant on their own time - in a responsible manner. But that's the rub: many are unable to control their intake, and bad things can happen.

5/13/2010 5:21 PM

 
Blogger Do You Think I G.A.F. said...

Spice is NOT a herb or anything. What gives one the high whent he smoke it is a mixture of synthetic cannabinoid drugs such as JWH-018. The natural herb that it is, it is laced with this JWH-018. It shows up in a UA as THC. This JWH-018 is not listed on the schedule of drugs.

KSL Channel 5 news did a story on it (http://www.ksl.com/?nid=309&sid=9577404).

Soon it will be outlawed. As for the Navy banning stuff that affects the CNS, there is more than alcohol. Like painting underway!!

STSCS(SS/SW) USN RET

5/13/2010 6:04 PM

 
Anonymous PNW NAV said...

SPICE is definitely a problem in the fleet, not just PH. While there are some drug tests that can be done for it, they are changing the chemical makeup of the drug faster than anyone can test for it. Some forms have the potential to be 800x more powerful than marijuana. PH had a sailor on SPICE who attempted to throw his girl friend off of the window of a 14 story building. Most cases that you hear up here result in an OTH, no questions asked.

5/13/2010 6:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is this, or marijuana for that matter, any different than drinking alcohol in your free time? They both affect the CNS in a similar manner. Only difference is alcohol usually leads to ARIs whereas marijuana or "spice" leads to a couple of hours giggling at some stupid cartoon on your couch.

5/13/2010 8:38 PM

 
Anonymous -Owen said...

So far it's the Key West that is having the Spice Problem. I was told that 4 a-gangers and 2 cooks went to mast and got the boot. They're now known as the "Spice Boys"

5/13/2010 9:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I understand, the it is more potent than marijuana, but the high only lasts for a couple minutes. I don't really see the problem. If it isn't illegal in the civilian world, why is it illegal for us? Next thing you know, cigarettes will be banned for good. Alcohol is already being regulated. Even if you show up to work just fine, if they hear you drank more than three drinks you could get in trouble. Where does it stop?

5/13/2010 10:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The brief that is out there says the high lasts 10-12 hours, more than just a few minutes. Of the guys on the boat in Pearl that got fingered, there were 3 groups. Those that were buying and selling to their shipmates, those that the command had hard evidence of use, and those that were probably using, but the command had no evidence other than he said/ he said. I understand that category 1 got adsep, Cat 3 was dismissed, and cat 2 would be an art 92 failure to obey bust. I'm not 100% on this, but that is what we were briefed

5/13/2010 11:45 PM

 
Blogger Old Salt said...

I'm out here in Pearl, and we are having a lot of training on the subject. We signed page 13's this week, and had GMT on it as well. Spice is a marijuana substitute. It is not detectable right now, and is outlawed by NAVADMIN. One of the boats here is in the middle of an investigation, and one of the boats in Bangor had issues as well. Big flick, we can't detect it, and everybody knows it. Unless they get caught with it, it will be just like DUI, and guys will continue to use it. The only thing going is when one guy gets caught, he usually sings like a bird.

5/13/2010 11:56 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just say a Squadron 11 unit had the same issues that is currently on deployment. They didn't know shyte until they found a pipe in the engineroom outboards. Turns out it was a baby a'gangr, oh those bad boys......There is a way to test for it as he tested positive for something.......


Hagar

5/14/2010 2:20 AM

 
Blogger 630-738 said...

Soon it will be outlawed. As for the Navy banning stuff that affects the CNS, there is more than alcohol. Like painting underway!!

I was no fan of underway painting for sure. I believed it showed a lack of planning, in that preservation was not incorporated into a boat's refit/upkeep plans, and wasn't that the intention of everybody's favorite SPRUCE anyway? Having said that, unless some boats out there are doing some fairly heavy painting underway or laying down epoxy polyamide, I can't imagine too many folks gettin' stoned underway painting.

How is this, or marijuana for that matter, any different than drinking alcohol in your free time? They both affect the CNS in a similar manner. Only difference is alcohol usually leads to ARIs whereas marijuana or "spice" leads to a couple of hours giggling at some stupid cartoon on your couch.

By your own admission, alcohol and marijuana/spice affect the CNS in a similar manner. Are you asserting that someone under the effects of those two won't get in a car, go out and kill someone just like a drunk might?

Whether or not you think it's a matter of privacy, when you enlist, you legally agree to the terms set before you, and one of those terms is that you will not use illegal drugs, period. Think it's just the military? Commercial nuclear power plants run a random drug testing progrm remarkably similar to the military's. The results of a positive test are the same. You pop positive, you're out. Go find something else to do, period. It's a condition of employment. The NRC doesn't care if you did it in the comfort of your home and giggled on the couch, you've shown that you use, and as far as they are concerned, you are susceptible to using while operating the plant or performing nuclear safety related maintenance. The Navy is the same.

5/14/2010 6:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a lighter note, my old boat used to make "five-spice chicken," and I tried to convince them that desicant and saw dust are not spices. This might help.

Rackburn

5/14/2010 7:04 AM

 
Blogger Oz said...

"By your own admission, alcohol and marijuana/spice affect the CNS in a similar manner. Are you asserting that someone under the effects of those two won't get in a car, go out and kill someone just like a drunk might?"

DUI and being drunk on duty are illegal, as they should be. Drinking is not. What's your point?

5/14/2010 3:19 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

"4 guys off a Bangor boat recently got caught with it, and my understanding is that they're being OTH-ed out"

Well, hey, at least they didn't get pregnant! Am I right, guys?

5/14/2010 8:13 PM

 
Blogger 630-738 said...

DUI and being drunk on duty are illegal, as they should be. Drinking is not. What's your point?

My point has nothing at all to do with duty. The anonymous poster at 5/13/10 8:38PM stated that the only consequence of MJ/spice use was giggling on the couch, yet alcohol abuse typically results in ARIs. My point is that MJ/spice use can result in similar incidents. Impaired is impaired, no matter what the medium is.

5/14/2010 9:47 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

Fair enough. I'd note, however, that alcohol has one additional danger: you can die readily from too much drinking in a session. I don't think there are any cases of fatal marijuana overdose.

A lot of sailors seem to like getting hammered all the time. It stands to reason that some will turn to other drugs since they provide a similar escape. Perhaps it would be better leadership to help cut down on the need for that escapism, or at least to help find more healthy ways of achieving it.

5/15/2010 6:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 4 guys in Bangor were newly reported guys out of sub school, and the only reason they got caught was two of them being retarded and unlucky at the same time. Random inspection at the OA gate and they had their paraphernalia in the glove box. Pulled the string and they ratted out the others. Since we have additional clearance requirements we kicked them off the boat and handed the case to NCIS; don't know what's happening from there nor do I care.

5/15/2010 7:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oz - one nice way to alleviate the need for escapism would be to not have us underway 267 days in a year. Failing that, actually give us a standdown after a 107 day deployment with no port calls and only downloading sailor mail twice. Failing that maybe not force 90+ hour workweeks on us during that not-standdown so we can get ready for our next 90+ day deployment which cannot move to the right... but even then I'll stick with alcohol and taxis.

5/15/2010 7:34 AM

 
Blogger Oz said...

You'll not get much argument from me, 7:34 guy.

5/15/2010 1:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oz - one nice way to alleviate the need for escapism would be to not have us underway 267 days in a year. Failing that, actually give us a standdown after a 107 day deployment with no port calls and only downloading sailor mail twice. Failing that maybe not force 90+ hour workweeks on us during that not-standdown so we can get ready for our next 90+ day deployment which cannot move to the right... but even then I'll stick with alcohol and taxis.

And to think that I bitched in the late 80s / early 90s when we had to pick up broke boat ops - but then we had twice as many boats. Gotta suck to be you!

5/15/2010 2:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in the key west. It is a large problem here, so far 7 have been admin discharged. It's a major case of one person's word versus another. The 2 cooks went to mast but not seperated. No nukes were convicted of using spice, there cases were dismissed and alot of the forward guys were also dismissed all because a forward guys interegity was shitty. This problem as hit us hard

5/15/2010 4:34 PM

 
Anonymous STSC said...

Would love to hear more with how the Key West Spice issue is being handled. I know one ST was xferred off the boat and that many others were implicated...

I did see a Powerpoint recently explaining all about the urinalysis challenges & the urgent change to the 5350 instruction clarifying that synthetic derivatives (like Spice) are illegal.

5/15/2010 5:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I've read, the high from spice lasts less than 15 minutes. The twelve-hour figure cited by someone does not sound credible at all, but more like propaganda. Shitcanning otherwise good sailors (if it's the case) for doing this on their own time doesn't sound at all rational. Pot is another deal, but there are serious challenges coming there, because it's likely to be legal off-base up and down the west coast within five years.

5/15/2010 8:56 PM

 
Blogger Old Salt said...

The 10-12 hour figure came from the brief being sent around from NCIS. I have no personal knowledge, so it could be only 15min. Whichever, 15min, or 10hrs doesn't matter. Spice is not testable, and the sailors know it. Add to it the legality of the product out in town, and it spells problems that will not easily be solved.

5/16/2010 1:13 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

I'm having real problems trying to figure out why this is so equivocal. Anything at all can be legalized anywhere in the world for whatever reason and you can point to that legality seven ways to Sunday. Does NOT erase or even mitigate the fact that Big Navy has outlawed it. Why is that so hard for some to understand? Seems pretty unequivocal to me. Do I agree with it? Doesn't really matter, now does it?

5/16/2010 7:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone else from PH (between 1995 and 2001) want to chime in here??

From what it sounds like we were on the same boat, but then again I remember almost every boat on the water-front having drug issues. To the point boats starting acquiring nick names, for the drug of choice people would get busted for using. If I remember correctly we lost one guy hours before a deployment and another two, halfway through. I believe the final episode during my time in PH was when a couple of guys got busted in Japan for having weed (international incident).

I don't remember having to take part in very many UAs, but then again we were never in port long enough (that 80+% optempo did wonders for my reenlistment decisions). I remember losing several "shipmates" to various substances, but yeah I believe ecstasy was the drug of choice on the water-front.

Recently, I wrote a letter of recommendation for one of my E's who was busted for having Spice paraphernalia and having admitted to using the stuff, claiming he didn't know it was banned (different community than subs but still with the 80+% optempo) . XO apparently agreed with me and dismissed the charges.

The powers that be will determine what is legal and illegal, whether it make sense or not; and the young guns in every community will continue to do what their friends do, so is life.

In the end the difference between the 3M coordinator on my boat and the Force Master Chief at the time was a DUI a year prior (same car or so the story goes). Drugs, drinking, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters if you are caught and if those at the top in your chain of command care enough to make it go away.

5/16/2010 8:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and in the case of Big Al making the Jack, Soupy et al issue go away, wasn't so much a choice as a lack of options.

5/16/2010 9:19 AM

 
Blogger 630-738 said...

A lot of sailors seem to like getting hammered all the time. It stands to reason that some will turn to other drugs since they provide a similar escape. Perhaps it would be better leadership to help cut down on the need for that escapism, or at least to help find more healthy ways of achieving it.

Oz, you're not going to get an argument from me on this one. I've no doubt better things could be done to ease the stress off sailors, if only a little. I'm skeptical that would reduce the incidents of alcohol/drug abuse, but it's still needed.

I still have to point out though, not using MJ/Spice or any other illegal drug is, plain and simple, a condition of employment. Use, and find something else to do. Every sailor signed documents to that effect, and there's no getting around it.

5/16/2010 3:10 PM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Anyone else from PH (between 1995 and 2001) want to chime in here??

From what it sounds like we were on the same boat, but then again I remember almost every boat on the water-front having drug issues. To the point boats starting acquiring nick names, for the drug of choice people would get busted for using. If I remember correctly we lost one guy hours before a deployment and another two, halfway through. I believe the final episode during my time in PH was when a couple of guys got busted in Japan for having weed (international incident).

I don't remember having to take part in very many UAs, but then again we were never in port long enough (that 80+% optempo did wonders for my reenlistment decisions). I remember losing several "shipmates" to various substances, but yeah I believe ecstasy was the drug of choice on the water-front.


At least I wasn't going nuts.

I remember that it was more of a cone-er problem then. The nukes were a bit too smart to get caught.

I suppose that there probably is a way to test for Spice, but it's like steroids-- too expensive to check for without cause.

[And there's no way that the subforce is looking for people using the THG or HGH or ephedra-- it is just too expensive! (6-panel test $23, steroid test-$145)]

References:
http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?25420ecb-00c2-4a91-9420-411c1bd57178
http://www.testcountry.com/categories.html?cat=350"
http://www.craigmedical.com/drug_test_10.htm

5/16/2010 10:52 PM

 
Blogger papamaynard said...

5 spice chicken... used to be a favorite question of mine when cooks came back to the engineroom for ship quals. The spices are not salt, salt, salt, pepper and salt as you might believe.

5/17/2010 12:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was one of the few that got booted me and fourteen others received AdminSeps-OTH i was smoking got me there before the drinking did smoked b4 worked out n went out down the bars was top student in subforce left cause didnt wanna b underwater so went surface n raped all the quals was on the worst boat in the navy front.. The only thing that what were trying to appeal was we weren't received fair warning bout substance no pg.13's given wasnt in the dep book during boot camp n jus to make a big smile while we were waiting to b processed out the ship had pg.13's given let alone after that what ever im a civilian under punishment of 112a theres a mandatory going to SARP in which we were denied so kickout without known sideeffects to navy which i kinda think its against reg's to do so n i have five different articles releasing such fact.. N this has been uprising since before present time with the Dutch jus a lil history fact.. n have a new article released by MCPON of the new SecNav5350.4D..
Oh yeah i was hotshit especially the old school way benching300 during submarine evasive maneuvers n master Leehelmsman within 2months on boat n waiting for oral review board for my eswoss within 4 months on ship while on spice.. n made my Senior cry with walked the brow for the last time...
so honestly the whole not on my watch i'll jus let you fill in the rest good day

6/07/2010 4:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe they are giving out OTH for using "spice". If the Navy only knew how many people are using illegal drugs on the boats.
On my tour, I think we lost 2 guys to pot, and a few more for meth, but there were so many others that never got caught, I know there was rampant cocaine and ecstasy use. I know 2 chiefs on the boat that had used marijuana on PCS leave, I know one JO that took a hit at a Jimmy Buffet concert. I knew a few nukes that would occasionally take LSD on the weekends! The doc told me confidentially that he had almost been caught on a UA for pot earlier in his career. Alcohol is far worse than almost all illegal drugs and I never saw anyone get thrown out over DUI, or even questioned when they came in for duty or the morning of an underway on deployment, still reeking of booze and most likely over the legal limit to drive. One A-ganger E-6 got arrested for beating his wife while in a drunken rage, and didn't lose a stripe or get restriction. It's all political BS.

On our crew, a 688 in PH, I'd estimate around 1/3 of all the blueshirts had used an illegal substance at least once in their career. Don't come to work drunk or high, I don't care what you do on liberty.

1/04/2011 8:30 AM

 

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