Seven midshipmen have been "separated" -- expelled -- from the U.S. Naval Academy for use or possession of spice, a designer drug similar to marijuana that is banned by the Navy.
Spice is a concoction that appeared in head shops and gas stations in the last decade, marketed as herbal incense but understood to mimic the effects of marijuana when smoked. Lab analysis showed it contained synthetic variants of cannabis, the active ingredient in joints.
Cmdr. Joe Carpenter issued a statement to my colleague Martin Weil last night:
"As of Jan. 20, 2011, seven midshipmen have been separated from the Naval Academy for violating the Navy's illicit substance abuse policies. An investigation remains ongoing and any additional allegations will be fully investigated. Where allegations are substantiated, violators will be held accountable."
As with many things Navy, this story appears to have broken in Navy Times (someone can correct me if I'm wrong).
The sidelined students are juniors and sophomores. Carpenter did not identify them by name.
Allegations of drug use "were initially brought to Naval Academy leadership's attention by other midshipmen after commencement of fall semester," Carpenter said.
From Navy Times:
"The expulsions are the most recent in a series of spice incidents throughout the Navy. Investigators broke up spice rings aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington and at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., in 2009."
The academy has a zero-tolerance policy toward drugs. In 2009, 11 midshipmen were found in violation of that policy. In 2010, four other mids were found in violation (in addition to those expelled last week).
The Navy will determine whether the midshipmen might have to repay the cost of their education, which is covered for all mids by the federal government.
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