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4. Acid Redux
Last March police in Charleston, West Virginia, accused Todd Honaker of killing his wife by dropping acid with her. The Charleston Gazette-Mail said Renee Honaker's death would be "the first reported acid-related fatality in the state and one of the few documented globally." That was literally true, since zero is as few as you can get, and no one has ever died of an LSD overdose.
As addiction specialist Paul M. Gahlinger notes in his 2001 book Illegal Drugs: A Compete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use and Abuse, "LSD is not toxic in the biological sense." According to a 2008 review of the scientific literature in the journal CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, "There have been no documented human deaths from an LSD overdose." So Renee Honaker's death would have been the first ever, had toxicological tests completed months later not determined that she did not take LSD after all.
Instead the tests detected an NBOMe compound, possibly 25I-NBOMe, which is often sold on blotter paper and passed off as LSD. The drug information website Erowid lists seven fatalities reportedly linked to 25I-NBOMe, which was first synthesized in 2003 and "has nearly no history of human use prior to 2010, when it first became available online." Erowid warns: "25-I-NBOMe is extremely potent. It should not be snorted! Insufflating 25-I-NBOMe appears to have led to several deaths in the last year and a number of hospitalizations."
If Renee Honaker was killed by an overdose of an unfamiliar, little-tested substitute for nontoxic LSD, her death is yet another example of how prohibition makes drug use more dangerous. It creates a black market where consumers have a hard time verifying that they are getting what they think they are getting, and it steers people away from relatively safe, well-studied drugs toward novel ones with unknown hazards. Instead of charging her husband with murder, Roane County Prosecuting Attorney Josh Downey should reflect on his own role in enforcing laws that lead to entirely predictable tragedies like this one.
Next: If legalizing pot sends the wrong message, why aren't teenagers listening?