‘Synthetic’ pot use rising in military

The military has investigated more than 1,100 cases of “synthetic” pot use this year as it seeks to clamp down on an increased use of the difficult-to-detect drugs, The Associated Press reported.

Military officials have launched an aggressive testing program in response to the use of the substance called “Spice,” which is a mix of herbs that causes a potent marijuana-like high and can lead to hallucinations.

The Navy investigated 29 Marines and sailors for using the synthetic drug two years ago, but that jumped to 700 this year, according to the AP. The Air Force disciplined 497 airmen, up from 380 last year, and the Army, which doesn’t track its investigations, said it medically treated 119 soldiers for use of the drug.

"You can just imagine the work that we do in a military environment," Mark Ridley, deputy director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, told the AP. "You need to be in your right mind when you do a job. That's why the Navy has always taken a zero tolerance policy toward drugs."

Many states have banned the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana, and the House passed a bill in December to create a federal ban.

The AP reported that synthetic marijuana was preferred in the military because until this year there was no test to detect it. The Drug Enforcement Administration developed a test this year after if put a one-year emergency ban on five chemicals related to the drug.