Fort Bragg officials banning synthetic drugs

October 14, 2010 9:04:37 PM PDT
Leaders at Fort Bragg are banning synthetic drugs that are legal in North Carolina.Click here to read more about the banned substances

Mephedrone -- also known as "M-cat," "meow meow," and "bounce" on the streets -- like other synthetic drugs is banned from the military and illegal to possess on post. But they're easy for anyone, including soldiers, to get off post.

Bragg Boulevard in Fayetteville has several head shops right outside of the base. Some advertise "Spice," what military officials call a synthetic marijuana.

Inside one, bath salts are for sale, which military officials say it's actually Mephedrone and something they believe soldiers are starting to use more often along with variations of "Spice."

"We are certainly seizing some of this where we're seeing it during our inspections in barracks," Commander 16th MP Brigade Col. Chad McRee said. "We're certainly seeing it when we pull a vehicle over and something like that is in plain view."

And they're certainly seeing the effects of using the substances. The euphoric high can lead to health problems.

"We do know we can get seizures out of this, soldiers black out from this," McRee said.

That's why the commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade says officers are actively looking for the substance and warning soldiers and their families about the dangers.

It's described on the rave circuit as a mix of cocaine and ecstasy and was banned in the UK earlier this year. It is also banned in two states in the U.S. and there is currently pending legislation in more than a dozen others, but not in North Carolina.

Raleigh police say they'd hadn't heard much about it until the recent death of NC State student Ray Ausbon and his friend Zac Tigner who was leaving for the Army the next day.

Officers believe the two may have used Mephedrone before they were found dead on a fire escape on Oct. 2.

Ausbon's parents believe their son and his friend may have thought it was safe since the drug is also advertised and sold over the internet as a plant food and is described as a legal high.

"I'm sure it was a false sense of security ... it was okay otherwise," Ausbon's mother Sherri Ausbon said.

"He wouldn't have done it," Ausbon's father Doug Ausbon said. "He took care of himself. He was a health nut. Hopefully it won't happen to other people."

Military officials hope hearing about the deaths and learning about the dangers will lead soldiers to steer clear of synthetic drugs.

The drugs are cheap and easy to buy and hard to detect, which is another reason why they're gaining in popularity and making it difficult for law enforcement and military police to get a head of the issue.

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