Psychedelic drugs just a click away online

The Internet has become a rapidly growing supermarket for herbs, mushrooms and other substances that will get you high-but may also make you very sick.

Feds Watching Closely

What does the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency say about all this? Right now, not much.

DEA spokesperson Rogene Waite says that some of the substances in question are currently "under review" by the DEA and remain legal under federal law. Waite does say the DEA has salvia in its crosshairs and is currently evaluating factors listed in the Controlled Substances Act to determine whether to list salvia as a controlled drug, thereby making it illegal to possess.

"Just because something is not illegal or regulated by the DEA doesn't mean it's not dangerous," Waite notes.

The Food and Drug Administration echoed Waite's sentiments. Michael Herndon, FDA spokesperson, says that herbs, mushrooms, and seeds sold on the Internet do not need to be approved by the FDA before they're offered for sale. However, Herndon says, if the FDA receives complaints that people have become sick as a result of consuming what they purchased, the FDA will consider investigating.

Injuries, Deaths a Rarity

Reported injuries or overdoses related to the ingestion of natural stimulants and hallucinogens are rare. "Emergency room visits are infrequent," says John Qaqundah, a practicing hospital pharmacist and assistant clinical professor with the School of Pharmacy at the University of California-San Francisco. He says that most ER visits stemming from the use of hallucinogens involve bodily harm: Someone falls down and bruises a bone.

158103-Brett_Chidester_original

Reports of deaths due to salvia are almost nonexistent, but the parents of Brett Chidester, a Delaware teen who committed suicide in 2006, think his salvia use led to his death. "I believe the use of salvia was reshaping Brett's mind, distorting how he viewed himself and the world around him," Kathleen Chidester says. "I think he just snapped." Though an autopsy did not find salvia in Brett's system, his death certificate lists use of Salvia divinorum as a contributing cause of death, says Jay Lynch, communications director for Delaware Health and Social Services.

Salvia is not the only natural intoxicant whose use may have contributed to a teen's death. In August 2003, 17-year-old Thomas Opazo of Santa Clara County, California, died of pulmonary edema related to "acute morphine and codeine intoxication." The boy's parents, who posted a redacted copy of the coroner's report on a Web site called Poppy Seed Tea Can Kill You, say that their son died from drinking poppy-seed tea--a mixture whose active ingredient can easily be purchased online (or in any grocery store) along with a recipe for brewing the tea.

158103-William_Hodge_original

And in 2007, 15-year-old William Hodge of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was found floating just beneath the surface of a lake. The official cause of death in the case was drowning, but news reports said that Hodge had been drinking jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) tea in a state park with friends during the hours shortly before he died, and his mother, Toppin Hodge, believes that datura's disorienting effects led to her son's death. New Mexico's state Office of the Medical Investigator reported that investigators had found an almost empty container of jimsonweed tea at the campsite where William Hodge and his friends had been spending time just prior to his death. Jimsonweed grows wild in the Albuquerque area and in many other parts of North America.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Spring

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?