When expanding the mind becomes illegal

24 Oct 2000 | LCpl. Zachary A. Crawford

He was only known as 'C.J.' to his friends. With short, shaggy-blonde hair atop a scrawny 120-pound frame, he had the reputation of being quite the party animal when it came to knowing when, and where, the jumpin' party scene was.

C.J. was a guy who liked to expand his mind, not by reading great works of literature or going to the movies, but by involving himself in taking the drug known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as "X" or "ecstasy." 

While it seemed like a great way to have a good time when the weekends rolled around, no one in his chain of command thought it was such a great idea. As a matter of fact, after a general court martial, it was determined that 20 to 30 years in the brig and a dishonorable discharge would be his price to pay for his un-healthy, not to mention, illegal "mind expanding experience."

This account is from an actual case pending against a Marine based here. Some of the facts stated previously, such his name, have been changed to protect the individual's privacy.

Even though some the facts have been changed, the use of ecstasy is still a problem facing the Marine Corps. It is more and more an obvious problem in the military each time a servicemember, whether in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps, is punished for either possessing, pushing or using ecstasy while in the service.

Ecstasy is a European-born drug, which has been around for more than 80 years. It was eventually outlawed by the United States 15 years ago when it was proven to have no medicinal purpose.  It is considered one of the most dangerous drugs available.

Studies have shown that approximately 1 out of 12 high school seniors have tried the drug, and it is the most-used drug for teens and people in their early 20s.

Some of the signs of ecstasy use include dehydration, anxiety, exhaustion and increased body temperature. Paraphernalia associated with the use of the drug include chemical light sticks (chem lights) and dust filter masks with menthol ointments coating the inside of the mask, which enhance the drug's effects.

Other forms of paraphernalia include lollipops and pacifiers, which are used to prevent the involuntary locking of the jaw, grinding of the teeth and sucking associated with the use of the drug.

Some Marines based here are ruining their military careers by making careless decisions and permanently marring the image of their unit, according to Special Agent Robin Knapp, Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

"We are seeing a significant increase in ecstasy use, sale and distribution," said Knapp. "It's not only a problem with the military, it's also a problem with the civilians out in town as well."

The special agent and his squad of investigators are working hard to decrease the problem.

"We are doing productive investigations to help control the problem," said Knapp. "We have a special section here that deals with narcotics and the one drug we run into most often is ecstasy."

The agents at NCIS are not alone in the battle to fight drug use in the Marine Corps.

"We are working hand-in-hand with outside agencies with most of our cases," said Knapp. "We primarily work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jacksonville Police Department, the Sheriff's Department and other agencies from all over."

Apparently, the majority of the ecstasy problem is with the younger generation of Marines, according to Knapp.

"The cases we handle usually involve the junior Marines aged 18 to 25," said Knapp, "but that doesn't mean that we have not had cases that involve older servicemembers."

Knapp and the other agents are trying to get the point across to people about the extreme danger of the drug.

"Most people don't know that ecstasy is a very dangerous schedule-one drug," said Knapp. "A schedule-one drug means that it is a drug that has no medical significance whatsoever. People don't understand that it has very bad effects on the body. It can really tear a body apart causing things like prolonged depression, brain damage and a multitude of other problems."