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Army hopes to combat spice use
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In recent months, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield has seen an increase in the use of artificial marijuana, most commonly called “spice,” according to a letter to community leaders from Col. Kevin Milton, U.S. Army garrison commander for Stewart-Hunter. Milton’s letter asks for cooperation from surrounding communities in eliminating all synthetic cannabis, also called herbal incense and bath salts. Milton’s letter said he has directed that all confirmed businesses in the community that sell these substances be placed on the installation’s list of off-limits business establishments.

“It’s a terrible epidemic right now,” said Julie Herrman, director of Fort Stewart’s Directorate of Emergency Services, who spoke to the Liberty County Board of Education at its November meeting. “It’s affecting our soldiers, (and) it’s affecting our communities, so I want to just make you aware and extend a hand in giving you some information that I briefed city and state officials about a month ago.”

Herrman told BoE members about a Nov. 2 police raid on a Statesboro business called Cosmic Charley’s that was reported in the Statesboro Herald. The report said authorities seized more than 2,900 packages suspected of containing spice, with an estimated street value of $58,000. Using an overhead projector, she showed pictures of the packages, saying they are labeled “K2,” “skunk,” and “chronic.” She said because these packages are marked as “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption,” these businesses are getting around state laws right now. Herrman said the DES is working to make establishments like the above “off-limits” to Stewart-Hunter soldiers. Putting a business off-limits to soldiers can really hurt that business, she said.

Stewart-Hunter spokesman Kevin Larson explained that the Armed Forces Disciplinary Review Board, a part of U.S. Army Garrison, sent a letter to community businesses known to sell spice. Simply stated, the letter asked them to remove these substances from their shelves. Larson said those businesses who did not respond to the letter or who’ve chosen to ignore the Army’s request were placed on Stewart-Hunter’s most recent list of off-limits business establishments, which was published Nov. 4, 2011.

Some of the businesses included on the most recent list of off-limits business establishments include:

Silver Ash Smoke Shop
774 Elma G. Miles Parkway
Hinesville, Ga., 31313

Video Bob
434 W. Gen. Screven Way
Hinesville, Ga., 31313

Sunset Novelties
809 Willowbrook Drive
Hinesville, Ga., 31313

Sunset Novelties
10419 Abercorn St.
Savannah, Ga., 31419

Sunset Novelties
6614 Waters Ave.
Savannah, Ga., 31406

Star Ship Adult Novelties And Gifts
8114 White Bluff Road
Savannah, Ga., 31406

El Cheapo Gas
13670 Oglethorpe Highway
Midway, Ga., 31320

The military particularly is concerned about the increased use of the herbal mixture called spice, if only because it can cause hallucinations that last for days, according to a recent article by Julie Watson of the Associated Press.

The article said spice is made up of exotic plants whose leaves contain chemicals that mimic the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The major problem, the article said, is that spice tends to be five to 200 times more potent than marijuana. The story also noted that a lot of questions have yet to be answered about spice, including how the drug might affect soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder or those with traumatic brain injuries.

Courier reporter Danielle Hipps contributed to this story.

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