AFA probe into cadet use of banned substances widens

March 22, 2012
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	 Photo by Gazette file
Photo by Gazette file 

About 30 Air Force Academy cadets are suspected of using banned substances, an academy official said Thursday, doubling the size of an investigation announced two months ago.

Few other details have been released about the inquiry, which involves substances other than alcohol, tobacco or drugs prescribed to cadets, according to a statement by Lt. Col. John Bryan, an academy spokesman.

The academy has conducted similar investigations in the past. A year ago, 33 cadets were investigated for using banned substances including Spice, a synthetic substance mimicking the effects of marijuana.

Some of the cadets under investigation participate in intercollegiate athletics, the statement said.

Bryan said he expects the investigation to be wrapped up “in the next few months.” He stressed that until then, the number of cadets found to have actually taken banned substances could change.

Cadets under investigation can face court-martial, reprimands or be kicked out of the Air Force, Bryan said.

During the 2011 investigation, 21 cadets resigned and five were kicked out of the academy, Bryan said. One case was sent to court-martial, he said in an email, and the remaining six were dropped. The outcome of the court-martial was not included in the email.

“I think there’s a clear message the use of intoxicating substances is a zero tolerance policy,” Bryan said. “It’s simply not allowed.”

Some of the new cases have been forwarded to Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, the commandant of cadets.

Bryan did not know if any cases have resulted in charges, or whether any cadets in the latest probe have been punished.

In mid-January, the academy announced that 15 cadets were under investigation for using substances banned under a 2010 written order by Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, the academy’s superintendent.

The order prohibits cadets from using substances such as Spice or from inhaling spray paint. The Air Force followed suit in January 2011 by banning any substances alter one’s mental state other than alcohol and tobacco.

At the time of the order, Spice was legally sold as incense.

But in March 2011, the chemicals used to make Spice were placed under an emergency 12-month ban by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

That emergency ban has since been extended, and federal officials have until Sept. 1 to decide whether to outlaw the chemicals.

Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @jakobrodgers

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