Drug Policy

Another Victory in Drug Harm Multiplication


A recent report in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology describes six additional cases of icky skin conditions linked to cocaine cut with levamisole, a veterinary drug that the government says can now be found in something like 80 percent of the country's illicit cocaine. Assuming that's true, such side effects seem to be fairly rare, although the authors worry that they represent "a potential public health epidemic." The reported cases involved "retiform purpura on the body and tender purpuric eruptions, necrosis, and eschars of the ears." Co-author Mary Gail Mercurio, a dermatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says, "We've seen very profound areas of necrosis—dying skin—usually located on scalp, ears, face and elsewhere on the body. It's very alarming." Or as the New York Daily News sums it up: "Cocaine used to just get you high. Now it rots your skin."

As I have pointed out before, cocaine acquired this feature thanks to the government's strenuous product development efforts, a.k.a. prohibition, which makes drugs more dangerous by encouraging additives and undermining quality. Levamisole exposure (which has never been a problem with legal cocaine, a Schedule II drug that can be used as a local anesthetic) is also associated with agranulocytosis, a reduction in white blood cell production that leaves the body vulnerable to various infections. More on the subject here, here, and here.

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  1. Y’know, I was just gonna go get dinner, but I think I won’t bother….


    1. On YT there are some vids on Russians homebrewing desomorphine from codeine pills. Crazy stuff.

    2. Try looking at the YT vids that have Russians homebrewing desomorphine from methylmorphine. That stuff is even more crazy.

  2. At least it isn’t the government poisoning the drugs like Jimmy Carter did by spraying the marijuana with the herbicide paraquat.

    1. Or making sure industrial alcohol which they knew was frequently being diverted for consumption was heavily denatured/poisoned, like they did during (alcohol) Prohibition.

      1. And to this day home distilling is illegal in part because, thanks to injuries resulting from denatured alcohol, people think it will make you go blind.

        1. But…but…the initial distillation can have tiny amounts of other alcohols! OH MY GOD ALCOHOL APOCALYPSE

          1. Alcohol Apocalypse would be a great blog name. Or nom de intertubes.

            1. Anyone who wants it can use it.

    2. We named our band Paraquat for awhile. Till we renamed it Shrieking Vulva.

  3. OMG dude that is downright scary dude.


  4. Is that a picture of Episiarch?

    1. Episiarch’s ear would be more like the ear in ‘Blue Velvet’ – all alone in the yard with flies buzzing around it – forlorn and dispatched from the world.

    2. Sockpuppet Alliance?, where do I send my dues? And, It is true that the membership card is made from the skin of kittens that epi kills?

      1. It’s true. All of it.
        Isn’t it, Binky?

  5. When I first saw the picture before reading the article, I thought this was about the new picture labels on the cigarette packs. I was wondering how the cigarette smoke would do that to an ear.

    1. Look no further:


      http://www.downfallguild.org/f…..76.gallery grid.jpg

  6. They have no problem poisoning prescription drugs with acetaminophen; why would the prohibitionist scum care about this?

    1. At least you can remove much of that poison. You know what really sucks? Lortab elixir.

  7. This is what these people desrve. This wouldn’t happen if they did not use these drugs.

    1. ???

      Was this one of your answers in the Miss USA pageant?

  8. Clearly we need a law mandating warning labels, including those photos, on all 8-balls.

  9. Narcotizing fascistis?

  10. Mmm, that is hot.

  11. I work as a paramedic. During a recent rotation through the hospital burn center, I met a patient who was a cocaine addict and had recieved cocaine cut with levamisole. Over 3 months as an inpatient in the center, This person had had all of their fingers and toes amputated along with their ears, nose and large segments of major muscle groups. The reason they were in the burn center was because they were the best equipped to deal with amount of body surface area destroyed by this drug. Anyone who thinks our current drug policy is the right one should shake this persons stump.

  12. Well, this is a kind of silly criticism on the WOD when you consider that government has actually had program in which the intent was, expressive, to make illicit drugs more toxic. It is this mentality that was behind spiking pain killers with relatively much more toxic acetominophine.

  13. 80%? Yeah, that’s bullshit. I can make numbers up too. 80% of articles written in medical journals are written by imbeciles who just make shit up. See, that was easy. What a fun game! I should be a journalist.

  14. After reading the article and comments, I’m left with the impression that it’s “the government,” not the actual distributors, who are cutting the coke. Which makes sense. Because why would the brave, enterprising, anti-government, illicit-drug business want to cheat and/or poison its own customers? That’s akin to a butcher putting his thumb on the scale, or a car dealer adding hidden costs to your vehicle purchase. Preposterous!

  15. right, prohibition tends to allow more cutting of drugs with substitutes

    but it’s not like your guys’ rejection of all medical or word-definition-ingredient regulations would allow that even more, right?

  16. “a potential public health epidemic”, based on six people…which is probably fewer than the number died falling down stairs or in swimming pools during the same period.

  17. epidemic? i don’t know but as an e.r. doc in a small canadian city i’ve seen 2 patients with these skin lesions (one lost a few fingers) and one with recurrent low blood counts from cut cocaine — their treatment cost a lot of money. sure, “just say no” makes the non-compassionate feel good, but more useful is “get a better dealer”.

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