NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - It's sold in smoke shops across the United States as an incense. Popular names include "Spice" and "K2".
"It just gets you lightheaded when you feel a buzz from drinking a beer," said CSSA Alexander Agado.
Smoking spice is perfectly legal in Virginia, but not on the Navy's watch.
"We can't afford to have any sailor that's abusing drugs high on the job," said Fleet Master Chief Tom Howard, US Fleet Forces Command. Howard says the Navy's zero tolerance policy includes legal substances, like spice.
"It's anything that a sailor decides to use for the purpose of getting high," said Howard.
"I had never heard about spice," said Agado.
Agado says another USS Monterey Sailor offered him spice at a Super Bowl party.
"He said it was legal; you could buy it anywhere. If it's something you can't get in trouble in the civilian world with cops, I figured I can't get in trouble in the Navy. I wanted to have a good time so I smoked it," said Agado.
Now, Agado's Navy career is up in smoke. He says he will exit the Navy Monday with an "other than honorable discharge."
A Fleet Forces Navy Spokesperson confirmed Only to 10 On Your Side administrative proceedings are underway for several USS Monterey sailors.
Agado said, when asked, seven of them admitted they smoked spice.
"We were supposed to know we can't do it but we never heard of it," said Agado.
The Navy says that is not possible.
10 On Your Side obtained the Navy's zero tolerance policy. It says drug abuse includes the wrongful use of "products that contain synthetic cannabinoid compounds such as spice..."
"It's given to them and taught to them from the time they go to a recruiters office through boot camp and A school," said Howard.
"I understand the policy now; I understand why they're kicking me out," said Agado. He hopes other sailors will learn his lesson without making the same mistake.
"Is it really worth it? My answer is no, it's not worth it at all," he said. "Just stay straight and do your time."
1,300 sailors were separated from the navy in 2009 for drug abuse. So far this year, 300 sailors have been separated from the Navy for drug abuse. Fleet Master Chief Tom Howard says the numbers this year are actually down.
Kansas is the first state to ban spice and it's on the way to becoming illegal in Missouri.
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