US Navy expels midshipmen after usage of drugs at Academy

Since its introduction at the academy last year, synthetic marijuana has become popular among rank-and-file midshipmen and on the football and wrestling teams, the Washington Post quoted some of the former midshipmen, who have been removed from campus for using or possessing the substance, as saying.

Some isolated corners of the historic Annapolis campus, they said, have become well-known gathering spots for smoking it.

Synthetic marijuana is a herbal potpourri sprayed with chemicals that, when smoked, produces mood-altering effects. It is illegal in at least 12 US states, although not in Maryland, and is prohibited in the US military, including at its service academies.
The popularity of synthetic marijuana has spawned a major investigation within the academy that has led to the expulsion of eight midshipmen, including one last week, The Post reported.

Several of those caught up in the probe say they expect the number of midshipmen who will be "separated" - the term academy officials use for expulsion - to reach more than a dozen. A substantial number of others have used synthetic marijuana but have not been caught, these former midshipmen say.

Academy leaders acknowledge that the four-month-old investigation into synthetic marijuana use is ongoing and that more expulsions are expected.

"The Naval Academy continues to actively investigate suspected illicit drug use," Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, superintendent of the academy, said in a statement.
The academy "has been and will continue to be transparent in disclosing the results of this ongoing investigation. If and when there is sufficient evidence and testimony of alleged drug use by additional midshipmen, they will be processed for separation," it said.

The report, based on interviews with eight midshipmen, five of whom have left the academy because of the synthetic marijuana scandal and three of whom are still on campus.

The use of synthetic marijuana, which often is called "spice" after a popular brand name, is rising at an alarming rate across the military, commanders say. It cannot be detected in the random urine tests that are a routine part of military life.

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