Wing commander signs General Order

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Until 1985, there was a loophole in the law. All over the country people were taking advantage of what they considered a safe, legal alternative to illegal drugs. It was a lightly studied, synthetically produced chemical compound that caused mental stimulation and empathy towards those around you. It was described as "penicillin for the soul" by many. That substance was MDMA, commonly known as ecstacy. The studies have spilled forth since that time. The gist of the studies... ecstacy literally eats away your brain. In addition to the corrosion of brain tissue, studies have shown MDMA users to experience long-lasting confusion, depression and selective impairment of working memory and attention processes.

Fast forward 25 years and we have a recreational drug market flooded with new products that have yet to be outlawed or studied. These substances go by the names of salvia, K-2, K-3, Spice and a host of other monikers. Just like ecstacy, these products have not been nationally banned. Just like ecstacy, many of these products are synthetic (i.e. chemically created as opposed to naturally grown). Most alarming of all, just like ecstacy in 1985, we have no idea what these products do to our brain or our body.

On May 4, Brig. Gen. Robert Wheeler, 509th Bomb Wing commander, took the first step in addressing this troubling trend by issuing a general order to all military members stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base prohibiting the use, possession and distribution of all forms of salvia, Spice, K-2, K-3 or any other synthetic cannabinoid or derivative thereof. The order also prohibits using any other intoxicating substance, such as over-the-counter medication, for the purpose of altering mood or function.

General Wheeler is not creating a new area of military law. Although this order now makes such activity punishable by Article 15 or court-martial, this behavior has been grounds for discharge for a long time. Air Force Instruction 36-3208, paragraph 5.54.1, specifically states that the use of any intoxicating substance, other than alcohol, for the purposes of altering mood or function is considered drug abuse and therefore warrants mandatory discharge processing.

What does this mean to you? It means that now is not the time to split hairs. Now is not the time to get cute with this order and find a workaround or some other substance that is not specifically listed in this order. The essence of this order is that the use of any substance, other than alcohol, for the purposes of getting high or altering your mood or function is strictly prohibited. It is a career-killer to be sure. The men and women of our military, especially those involved with the sensitive and unique mission of Whiteman, have a duty to be fit and ready. Drug use is incompatible with the responsibility we carry to our mission, and most importantly, to our nation. In case there is still any residual doubt, be advised, these substances are absolutely testable by urinalysis.