Drug Policy

The Pentagon Plays Drug Regulator

The Defense Department tells vitamin stores operating on military bases to stop carrying a popular fitness product.


Apparently, I am lucky to be alive. That is, at least, according to the paramount health authority in the United States: the Pentagon.

News came out this month that the military has forced GNC and other vitamin stores operating on military bases to stop selling dietary supplements that contain DMAA, also known as dimethylamylamine. They made this decision after two soldiers died from heart attacks last year during fitness exercises. Both had DMAA in their systems.

Dietary supplements fall within the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, which has not placed any limitation on the sale of products containing DMAA. Meanwhile, products with DMAA are very popular among fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and soldiers because they provide intense sensations of energy and focus that are comparable to drinking two to three cups of coffee. 

You only need to search YouTube for "Jack3D," the best known DMAA product, to find dozens of testimonials from users who have gained muscle and lost weight while using the supplement. Having used Jack3D semi-regularly over the past year, I can personally attest to DMAA's effectiveness, as well the unlikelihood of it causing any significant side effects to those who take the recommended dose of a little under 1.5 teaspoons.

The entire basis of the Defense Department's rash decision rests on these two isolated incidents. This is despite the fact that no one has said definitively that these two deaths were caused by DMAA. In fact, the military has said the exact opposite, with the director of Health Policy Services for the Army Surgeon General telling reporters that "no link between DMAA and the medical conditions reported by military medical providers has been validated scientifically by us."

If the products are that popular among members of the military, logic would dictate that many soldiers regularly have it in their system. And the mere presence of DMAA certainly doesn't mean that those who died were using the product responsibly as directed. As journalist Christopher Snowdon, the author of The Art of Suppression, wrote recently on his blog: "They may have taken absurd quantities, or they may have taken something else as well, or it may all be a coincidence. Coincidence can certainly not be ruled out when a product is so widely consumed—indeed, it would be remarkable if there were not coincidences."

If this product were as dangerous as the military contends, wouldn't we be hearing from many more people, and wouldn't other government agencies be rushing to get involved? So far, the Pentagon stands alone.

And the Pentagon must not be too concerned, because they haven't instructed any solders to stop taking Jack3D. Troops can still buy the products off base, or even have it delivered from an online store. The Pentagon only played big brother by requiring GNC and other retailers to take a safe, legal product off its shelves on base.

The Army Surgeon General will walk a dangerous path if it starts making its own decisions about what is safe or healthy on military bases. Certainly, alcohol has contributed to the deaths of service members. Should we ban beer? Are cigarettes next? What about the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King outposts?

Our military leaders should focus on their mission, and not micromanaging the diets and exercise regimens of the troops. And they certainly shouldn't be weighing in on issues where they lack both the expertise and any real evidence to support their decision.

Gregory Conley is a director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, and a JD / MBA candidate at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey.

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  1. It is ONLY the stores ON BASE, not every GNC store out there. The property owner, even if they are the government in an enumerated power, does have a say in what a tenant does on their property.

    1. Except they aren’t property owners. They don’t hold this land by right of property, but by force of government. They are federally held cities that give their residents no say in how they are run.

      1. True. another thing about military installations is taxes. you don’t pay sales taxes on military installations for anything. While the commissaries and PX/BX/NX are usually off-limits for non-retired or non-married to service member civilian employees, places like GNC and other shops and restaurants are frequented by civilian employees. Saves a bit of coin to avoid sales taxes.

        1. Which is why you pay taxes on what you think you “own.”

          1. you’re right. Property taxes are proof that we don’t REALLY own what we own.

            1. That’s right. Agricultural city-Statist settlers homestead after the genocide.

              And you gotta pay the piper for the genocidal gambol lockdown services provided.

              “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.”
              ~Stanley Diamond
              In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization
              page 1, first sentence

      2. …by FORCE of GOVERNMENT.

        You’re just bullshitting otherwise. You pay property taxes….to the government, right? That’s because you have to pay the piper who once invaded and presently occupies the land.

        And if somebody gambols across the artificial borders created by the government and recorded at the Recorder’s office, you’re going to call the sheriff, use the government court system, or some other government approved means of enFORCING your government-given property “rights.”

        Haven’t you learned how agricultural city-Statism (civilization) works yet? Force. Lots of it.

        So, yeah, the government has property. Sometimes you can lease it and call it “yours.”

      3. Ownership or no, the base is still their workplace and soldiers are their employees. They also have the authority to license which vendors are able to sell on their post and as such they have a right to set conditions on products that those companies sell to their employees on-base. It’s part of the agreement that companies have to sign onto to be able to open a store on the base.

        This is hardly uncommon…they did the same thing with ephedra several years ago.

        1. Plus, they also have the legitimate authority to forbid their employees (the soldiers) from purchasing the product elsewhere, even if it’s completely legal. When soldiers enlist in the Army, they agree to abide by the lawful orders of their officers and there’s nothing unlawful about restricting their employees’ access to materials they feel would be harmful to their employees. If the soldiers find that objectionable, they can get out once their enlistment is up.

          1. Hold up there, sparky. This is a fuzzy grey area. I wouldn’t make bets on telling all troops they can’t buy a completely legal product would qualify as a lawful order. The military’s authority over servicemembers, while large, is not absolute.

            1. It’s not a grey area at all, sparky. I was in the Army and I can tell you firsthand that dictating consensual private behavior by the troops is not only routine and fully supported by the rule of law. They are perfectly within their legal rights to ban soldiers from purchasing ephedra off-post, just as they were perfectly when they banned Spice, or when they bar the personal possession of firearms on base (you have to check it in and out with the armory at your unit), or when they court-martial you for sticking your dick into someone who has a wedding ring who isn’t your wife.

              The military operates under the Uniform Code of Military Justice…different rules for soldiers than for civilians.

              1. My iPad may have butchered my grammar with its auto-correct function, but my points remain valid nonetheless. 🙂

            2. And you are correct that the power over soldiers is not absolute, but banning soldiers from ingesting legal products has happened before and has not been shot down by the judicial system.

    2. The Federal Government owns nearly 650 million acres of land – almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States.


  2. The Koran has been responsible for more military deaths… maybe they should ban those on base.

    1. You racist. You cannot oppose anything without being a racist. We need more Korans, Islam is a religion of peace, you are still a racist. Racist. Why don’t we kill all the racists like you. You bloody racist.

      1. Yes, the irony of the hate-haters. Do they hate themselves for hating hate? Almost as funny as primitivists on computers.

        1. You can’t call me out for pointing out that someone is racist. You must also be racist. I bet if you owned a business you would only hire whites. People shouldn’t be allowed to own businesses, either, but you would. You are such a racist. I bet you hate the planet. Obama 2012, if you vote for someone else you are the biggest racist racist that ever was a racist.

          1. I would only hire Koreans, you stupid nigger.

            1. That is good. Hiring people that aren’t whit is OK it promotes diversity. Even if you have all Koreans it is somehow more diverse than mostly whites and a few of other races. You are also a racist. Everyone but progressive liberals are racists. You racist.

  3. I almost did a spit-take, reading “dimethylamylamine” as “dimethylamine”. Seemed odd for GNC to be selling a Schedule 1 Listed Precursor.

    1. Shhh! Ixnay on the ecursorpray alktay, dude! We’ve got a profit margin to keep!

      1. Shit, sorry. I won’t say a thing about the muscle building Safrole “supplement,” I swear.

  4. “Our military leaders should focus on their mission, and not micromanaging the diets and exercise regimens of the troops. And they certainly shouldn’t be weighing in on issues where they lack both the expertise and any real evidence to support their decision.”

    This is a fine sentiment, but, unfortunately, over the past 10 years (and from time to time in years past) this has been the job description of almost every Army General and absolutely the purview of every Army Command Sergeant Major. The US Army has become a PC, nanny state, knee jerk, risk averse mess. Which is why, after 12 years and two deployments, I left.

  5. Don’t join the military!

    1. It’s the first division of labor in city-Statism (civilization.) I thought division-of-labor was good.

      What are you, some goddam Luddite?

  6. Gotta jsut love our bought and paid for politicians, best politics money can buy!


  7. You know what kills far more soldiers? Bullets fired at them from an enemy. You know where soldiers encounter these enemy fired bullets? War.

    Just sayin.

  8. Its not like active duty military personnel own their body. Tell them not to consume that shit.

  9. Whether its dropping Agent Orange on soldiers in Vietnam, mandating soldiers to take experimental vaccines or testing body-fat composition using a tape measure, the US Military is notoriously hostile to medical science.

  10. Complete this sentence:

    Correlation does not equal _____________.

    1. “Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint.”

      ~Edward Tufte

      1. It is correlation, not causation. Period. Except to the hysterical paranoid who demands more and more laws to ban, ban, ban.

        1. Simply stating their nonequivalence omits information about their relationship.


  11. any article on dietary supplements that does not mention DSHEA, which is ***THE*** most important piece of legislation , is seriously lacking. it’s because of DSHEA that we have a much more libertarian supplement market than canada and most other countries. it’s because of DSHEA that even the ridiculous ephedrine “ban” was overturned, and it’s because of DSHEA that we have pretty broad access to supplements

  12. 1.5 teaspoons of PURE DMAA would make you sick. The actual dietary supplement dosage is in the range of 15-30 milligrams.

    DMAA is basically the only mild stimulant available for dietary supplement manufacturers. Patrick Arnold brought it to the mainstream and, just in the last 2-3 years it has caught on heavily outside the body building community.

    The FDA will probably ban it within 1-2 years, just like ephedrine. Big government reach…

  13. A great read, thanks! The nanny legislation is sickening and seems to be spreading like wild fire. I hear sugar is next.

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