Drug Policy

Prohibition Can Cause Flesh to Rot


According to a letter in the June 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, cocaine mixed with the veterinary anti-parasitic drug levamisole hydrochloride can cause "bilateral necrosis of earlobes and cheeks"—or, as the Yahoo! News headline puts it, "Contaminated Cocaine Can Cause Flesh to Rot." Doctors already have reported that levamisole in cocaine can cause agranulocytosis, a reduction in white blood cell production that leaves the body vulnerable to various infections. But this week's letter, which describes two cases, is the first report of skin lesions like these tied to consumption of levamisole-tainted cocaine. Both side effects have been seen in clinical studies of levamisole, which is used in humans to treat cancer and autoimmune disorders.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 percent of cocaine seized at the border in 2009 contained levamisole, up from around 10 percent a few years before. The drug's popularity as a cutting agent may have increased because it enhances cocaine's perceived effects while reducing its cost. But even though most cocaine consumed in the U.S. (perhaps as much as 80 percent) now contains levamisole, and about 6 million Americans use cocaine every year, there have been few reports of serious side effects from the contaminant, which suggests that they do not occur very often. Presumably people whose immune systems are already weak are especially vulnerable. As I noted last September, when the federal government started warning the public about levamisole in cocaine, whatever hazard it represents is entirely attributable to prohibition, which makes drugs more dangerous by encouraging practices that would never survive in a legal, open, competitive market. Just as drinkers no longer need to worry about methanol in their liquor, medical users of legally produced cocaine need not worry about levamisole.

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  1. You’re overlooking the obvious here: It’s an anti-parasitic. So, the people in whom it causes necrosis are obviously parasites.

    South Bronx Paradise, baby!

    1. South Bronx Paradise, baby!


    2. “I told you, I can eat anything I want with this frickin’ diet. It’s great! [Carl unscrews his light fixture on the ceiling] And the kicker? No long term ramifications!”

  2. There appears to be a correlation to nostril size.

  3. Then we need to give lots of it to Waxman.

  4. Levamisole is a hell of a drug!

  5. Say what you want about big pharma, but I’ve never heard a pill ad state “symptoms may include rotting of flesh…”

    1. Big Pharma uses something like “side effects may include infection”.

      1. Ask your doctor if Necrosa is right for you.

        1. Necrosa was right for me! I lost 50 pounds each when they amputated my legs, and 25 pounds when they took the right arm. Sure, typing H&R comments with my left hand is a bit slower than before, but now I can eat whatever I want and still weigh less than I did a year ago. Whoo-hoo!

  6. OK, and if we legalized prostitution then it would be less likely you’d get an STD from one. That’s not the point. It says something about our society that it doesn’t allow people to use cocaine right under its nose.

    1. OK, and if we legalized prostitution then it would be less likely you’d get an STD from one

      Is this supposed to be a point against legalization ?

      1. No, no, Tom. He says right after that “that’s not the point”. Because he has no point.

    2. Yes. It says our society has misplaced priorities.

  7. tainted drugs are a feature not a bug. How else can they scare the crap out of kids?

    1. Plus if the dopers die, society is improved. It’s all win.

      Fuck drug warrior assholes. That goes double for the hypocrite currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    2. I recall reading an admission that the US government did taint alcohol during Prohibition… any one got a link?

      1. I think it was a Salon article, but I can’t find it.

  8. “Just as drinkers no longer need to worry about methanol in their liquor”

    In 1985, an Austrian wine brokers did cut their white wine with ethylene glycol.

    The motivation to do so was to make the wine sweeter without increasing its gravity like sugar would do. That way plonk could qualify for a higher designation under the Pradikat system of wine designations.

    Of course, this does not invalidate your argument: the Pradikat system is a government creation also.

    1. …and ethylene glycol != methanol.

  9. “medical users of legally produced cocaine need not worry about levamisole.”

    I’m not sure exactly what the medical uses of cocaine are that would necessitate the legal production of it. The risk of addiction to it is extraordinarily high given that its uses can be accomplished with other medications now in use and I can’t think many doctors would prescribe it to a patient for medical reasons even if it were legal (that whole “do no harm” thing). If we are going to talk legalizing or decriminalizing cocaine because we shouldn’t be telling people what risks to take with their own bodies, fine, but implying that there’s a solid medical purpose at work here is bogus.

    1. I had doctors administer cocaine to me twice: Once to reset a broken nose and once for eye surgery. No, neither was elective surgery.

      1. I didn’t say cocaine doesn’t have any medical uses. I’m just saying there aren’t any medically indicated consumer uses that would make cocaine prescribable, unless you are saying there is a market for an adjunct to nose resetting at home or do-it-yourself eye surgery. I am well aware of cocaine’s use in medicine…I have even written for it myself for a severe nosebleed in a patient.

    2. P, don’t forget it is an excellent vasoconstrictor and is still used in nasal surgeries as epinephrine is contraindicated in the nasal area, particularly the tip of the nose. There are other vasocontrictors that are used, but the half-life of cocaine and bioavailablility is fairly short. I do know two EENT’s that still use it.

      1. Right you are, Groovus. I was thinking of it as the article seemed to be referring to it, as an legally available consumable commodity for at home use.

    3. Why not just say: “I want to legalize cocaine so I can get high”? That is what CP is trying to say.

      It does seem a bit disingenuous when people who normally don’t care about whether others live or die suddenly become winged angels of mercy when it comes to recreational narcotics.

      1. Just because you don’t want to be forced to pay for someone else’s life doesn’t mean you don’t care whether they live or die. It is possible to have empathy while refusing to be a slave.

    4. I think the only point was that there is no need to worry about contaminated pharmaceutical cocaine.

  10. Just one more VERY good reason to NOT mes with the stuff!


  11. “6 million Americans use cocaine every year, there have been few reports of serious side effects”

    Do the 7,000 deaths in figure 2 count as a serious side effect?

    1. No, they didn’t follow the dealer’s instructions clearly printed on the label.

    2. Does getting shot during a 3 am SWAT raid count toward that figure?

    3. No; that’s a frivolous side effect.

    4. 33,000 deaths is a serious side effect of the millions of Americans who used a car last year.

  12. The government should stop confiscating cocaine and simply add levamisole to all the cocaine it intercepts. Then we can finally get rid of societies parasites and viruses. Poison those who poison our kids!

    1. …and then they can sell it at a huge profit. Then we can use that to pay for health care!

  13. The blood from the millions of kids poisoned by drugs like marijuana and cocaine is on the hands of libertarians, not the drug warriors.

    1. With so much drama in the l-b-c
      Its kinda hard bein snoop d-o-double-g
      But i, somehow, some way
      Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day
      May i, kick a little something for the gs (yeah)
      And, make a few ends as (yeah!) I breeze, through
      Two in the mornin and the partys still jumpin
      Cause my momma aint home
      I got bitches in the living room gettin it on
      And, they aint leavin til six in the mornin (six in the mornin)
      So what you wanna do, sheeeit
      I got a pocket full of rubbers and my homeboys do too
      So turn off the lights and close the doors
      But (but what) we don’t love them hoes, yeah!
      So we gonna smoke a ounce to this
      Gs up, hoes down, while you motherfuckers bounce to this

      Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice
      Laid back [with my mind on my money and my money on my mind]

      Now, that, I got me some seagrams gin
      Everybody got they cups, but they aint chipped in
      Now this types of shit, happens all the time
      You got to get yours but fool I gotta get mine
      Everything is fine when you listenin to the d-o-g
      I got the cultivating music that be captivating he
      Who listens, to the words that I speak
      As I take me a drink to the middle of the street
      And get to mackin to this bitch named sadie (sadie? )
      She used to be the homeboys lady (oh, that bitch)
      Eighty degrees, when I tell that bitch please
      Raise up off these n-u-ts, cause you gets none of these
      At ease, as I mob with the dogg pound, feel the breeze
      Beeeitch, Im just

      Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice
      Laid back [with my mind on my money and my money on my mind]

      Later on that day
      My homey dr. dre came through with a gang of tanqueray
      And a fat ass j, of some bubonic chronic that made me choke
      Shit, this aint no joke
      I had to back up off of it and sit my cup down
      Tanqueray and chronic, yeah Im fucked up now
      But it aint no stoppin, Im still poppin
      Dre got some bitches from the city of compton
      To serve me, not with a cherry on top
      Cause when I bust my nut, Im raisin up off the cot
      Don’t get upset girl, that’s just how it goes
      I don’t love you hoes, Im out the do
      And I’ll be

      Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice (beeotch!!)
      Laid back [with my mind on my money and my money on my mind]
      Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice (beeotch!!)
      Laid back [with my mind on my money and my money on my mind]

  14. I posted a link to this in one of the threads a few days back:

    Cocaine addict left with 27 day erection after massive coke binges

    A cocaine addict whose habit left him with an agonising 27 day erection has been ordered by medics to quit – or face having his manhood amputated.

    Surgeons in Santiago, Dominican Republic, said the swelling had been caused by Luis Rodriguez’s massive cocaine binges and said any future abuse would cause his penis to die and rot.

    Urologist Milton Alvarez Rosa said: “It could lead to necrosis, and that would necessitate severe surgery.”

    1. I heard they found the patient in the woods in the middle of night, clothed in nothing but a patients flimsy garment and grasping his manhood.

      Can anyone confirm this? This was shortly after the doctors made the previously mentioned statement.

  15. Presumably people whose immune systems are already weak are especially vulnerable.

    Not quite. You need to have a certain HLA antigen – B27, to be precise.


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