HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Officials at Hill Air Force Base are cracking down on the illegal use of a synthetic pot substitute sold under the name of Spice.
Random testing of airmen has been under way since Feb. 22.
The tests follow dozens of courts martial at bases nationwide and dozens more nonjudicial punishments.
Spice is a synthetic drug used to create a marijuana-like high. It was banned in Utah during the 2011 legislative session.
"This is not a substance we want our airmen to use," said Col. Patrick Higby, commander of Hill Air Force Base and the 75th Air Base Wing.
Testing for Spice is a recent development, although the drug has been on the Air Force's radar for some time. Disciplinary action for use of the drug began well before officials began keeping statistics Air Force-wide last June.
Airmen found using or possessing Spice have been subject to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Higby said his base was at the forefront of the issue. As problems grew in Utah, he would receive calls from counterparts at other bases looking for information on Spice.
"We really began to inform the rest of the Air Force that we had an issue here, and ultimately I believe that's how we came upon adding this to our portfolio for drug testing," Higby said.
Data from Hill shows that since April 2010, 13 airmen have been discharged after being caught using the drug and 12 of those were also punished. So far in 2011, two airmen have been disciplined.
No airmen from Hill have been court-martialed.
"We're dealing with high-value weapons, we're dealing with other human beings -- other airmen who are relying on you to do your job properly," Higby said.
"It doesn't just put that team member at risk -- it puts all the other team members at risk."
Nationally, between June and December 2010, 177 airmen received some form of nonjudicial punishment. Another 83 airmen were court-martialed.