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7 Air Force airmen discharged for 'Spice' use

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Seven airmen at Utah's Hill Air Force Base have been discharged for using spice, an incense that has effects similar to marijuana.

Base officers say cases against 11 other airmen accused of using spice are being processed, and a discharge likely will prevent the airmen from joining the military again.

While spice is legally sold in smoke shops, U.S. military members are forbidden from using it because it alters one's mental state when smoked.

"We're going to be vigilant about rooting (users) out," said Col. Patrick Higby, commander of the base's 75th Air Base Wing.

Higby said he's concerned about anything that will impact the Air Force's mission.

"We don't want those individuals to be in any altered mental state," he told the Deseret News. "It's that teamwork thing: A team is only as strong as the weakest link."

A similar ban also is in the works for civilian employees of the base, said Capt. Graham Bernstein, assistant judge staff advocate in the base's legal office.

He said the seven airmen received general or less-than-honorable discharges, which signify some wrongdoing has occurred, but not at a criminal level.

"In the Air Force, we don't take back people who have been discharged for drug use," Bernstein said.

Air Force commanders are authorized to inspect airmen's dorm rooms, but they rely on other airmen to follow the base's "honor code" and to turn in those suspected of using mind-altering drugs.


Information from: Deseret News

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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