Drug Policy

LSD Did Not Kill Her, but It Looks Like Prohibition Did

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Erowid.org

Remember the West Virginia man who was charged with murder in March after consuming LSD with his wife because it supposedly killed her? As I said at the time, the charge was puzzling not just because Todd Honaker had no intention of harming his wife, let alone killing her, but also because this would be the first documented case of a fatal LSD overdose in history. Last June I noted that Honaker was still behind bars, along with Chad Renzelman, a college buddy who had supplied the drug, even though West Virginia's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had not determined what caused Renee Honaker's death. It turns out that the drug Todd and Reneee Honaker took was not LSD after all; according to WSAZ, a TV station in Charleston, it was an NBOMe compound.

Exactly which NBOMe compound they took is not clear, but Erowid lists seven fatalities reportedly linked to 25I-NBOMe, which is often sold on blotter paper and passed off as LSD. The website says the psychedelic, which was first synthesized inb 2003, "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."

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Renee Honaker, who was 30 years old, "fell to the floor, began convulsing and died" after taking two hits. According to WSAZ, "The defense argues that Renee's prescriptions mixed with alcohol may be to blame." But assuming she 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.

[Thanks to Chip Smith for the tip.]

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  1. consuming LSD with his wife because it supposedly killed her?

    He consumed LSD with his wife because it killed her? That’s some weird through-the-looking-glass shit there.

  2. “has nearly no history of human use prior to 2010, when it first became available online.”

    So Silk Road and Bitcoin killed his wife.

    *ducks*

    1. Actually, I think 25i was legal when it first hit the market.

      1. Aren’t all synthesized drugs legal when they first hit the market? Isn’t that why lawmakers are always “scrambling” to pass a law to make such-and-such new designer drug illegal?

  3. What is the world coming to when you can’t trust hippie drugs.

    1. You can always grow your own mushrooms.

      1. Or you can live in a place where they grow wild.

  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25I-NBOMe

    Says it’s a derivative of 2C-I.

    And do see the last comment on the earlier thread here:
    https://reason.com/blog/2013/06…..ch#comment

    1. Here’s a silkroad thread on Reddit where some people start to talk about NBOM

      http://www.reddit.com/r/SilkRo…..der_looks/

      Can’t cut and paste it here, but an interesting back-and-forth breaks out over the safety of NBOM.

    2. Good call on the comment, Hazel.

      1. If you read the reddit thread I posted, apparently some people are acutely aware they’re buying an LSD knockoff, and are happy to do it.

        1. I don’t understand the “try all the chemicals” mentality, especially when you KNOW this one kills people who presumably have a lot of experience with psychedelics. I know from that the guy in Little Rock who died from 25i knew what he was getting, and had been warned about the dangers. Still didn’t turn out well.

          1. I think that some people want to get high, and they buy into the notion that if you’re ‘careful’ you can avoid any danger regardless of the compound.

            Fuck it, I can’t stand it:

            You can overdose on any drug, and have the same effects. For that Erowid report, the chances of the dosage being wrong with a liquid dose is high.
            Even if the dose was right, yes people can have negative side effects, just like with anything in life. That’s why safety is advocated. Take a very low dose your first time, especially with a source you don’t trust, and have someone sober to babysit.

            See? Just a few precautions and wham! Happy tripping!

            1. I’ll bet that in a laboratory setting, you could make 25i safe enough to use. It would still be a bad idea, especially since it’s nothing amazing and most psychedelics aren’t dangerous.

              1. You know, ever since the 70s (when I grew up) there was an attitude of “Hey maaaan, it’s natural…” which was very pervasive (and still is in some sectors).

                Putting strange shit in your body can be dangerous. Some people have no fear.

                Seriously, do a search on the 25I NBOM, people seem to be extremely aware it’s an LSD replacement. I’m thinking this guy and his wife were too. Hell, he could be one of the guys in the threads I’ve been reading who “got hooked up fat”.

                1. I suspect that a lot more 25i is being sold as LSD to capitalize on the brand name. I find it absolutely plausible that they just didn’t know what they were taking.

          2. I don’t understand the “try all the chemicals” mentality, especially when you KNOW this one kills people who presumably have a lot of experience with psychedelics.

            1. “If it’s more dangerous, it must be a better high.”
            2. “If the government says it’s really bad, it must be really good.”

      2. Again, people, if you’re buying psychedelics, buy good test kits. It’s not enough to ensure it contains LSD. You also have to exclude 25i.

      3. Damn you. You were closer than me.
        You win.

  5. Of course the prohibitionists will rationalize by saying that had he obeyed the government like a good slave, and never used the prohibited chemical, none of this would have happened.

    1. I’m opposed to drug prohibition, but it is a nigh-irrefutable statement of fact that if she hadn’t taken the drug, she wouldn’t have died.

      Prohibition doesn’t take away peoples’ agency. It limits freedom, and constricts choice. But weed being illegal doesn’t mean I have to inject krokodil this weekend.

      1. If she had taken LSD, like she thought she was taking, she also wouldn’t have died.

        But yes, it was her choice to take high-potency drugs that hadn’t been tested as pure. If it weren’t for prohibition, that wouldn’t be so expensive or difficult.

        1. If she had taken LSD, like she thought she was taking, she also wouldn’t have died.

          I’m not a prohibitionist either, but the blame lays squarely on the person that deceptively sold her a substance that killed her.

          1. Again, it may not have been deceptively sold. Even if Todd Honaker claims he didn’t know, there seems to be a pretty wide market and pretty wide knowledge that people are knowingly buying 25i as an LSD replacement.

            All speculation of course.

            1. I never heard of 25i until today. Then again it’s been like twenty years since I touched a hallucinogen.

  6. Another victim of the black market, which means another victim of prohibition in my book.

    If not for the absolute prohibition on LSD, nobody would be cooking up dodgy substitutes (regardless of how they are marketed), and these folks could have buoght exactly what they wanted from a transparent and reputable source.

    If you’re looking for where to lay the blame, blame the prohibitionists. Her blood is on their hands.

    1. If not for the absolute prohibition on LSD, nobody would be cooking up dodgy substitutes

      I’m not sure of that. I believe that as long as people are willing to try new ways to get high, there will always be a place for designer drugs.

      Prohibition might slow facsimiles or direct ‘substitutes’ which are expressly designed to circumvent a shortage or law, but it seems to me that there are plenty of smart chemists out there willing to create new compounds to give you a new trip experience, and after reading many of the SilkRoad reddit threads, it seems there’s no shortage of people willing to try them out.

      The libertarian question becomes: how should they be regulated?

      1. Would people try to create new drugs even without prohibition?

        Sure. But let’s look at history for how that works:

        During Prohibition, all kinds of people were putting all kinds of krep in bottles and selling it as alcohol, including lead-laced ethanol (from using lead pipes in stills), methanol, and so forth.

        This was 100% due to Prohibition and the black market. When Prohibition was lifted, the market for these krep products largely evaporated. Even the black market distillers cleaned up their acts; you can still buy moonshine, but you won’t find moonshine run through lead pipes, contaminated with methanol, etc., at least not in anything like the frequency during Prohibition.

        Crack was developed as a black market drug, due to the exigencies of the black market. So also with all the bath salts, synthetic pot, etc. Oddly, a legal market is a huge barrier to entry to substandard and second-rate “alternatives” to established products like pot, LSD, cocaine, etc.

        1. I don’t disagree with any of that. But again, all of the shenanigans going on in the Alcohol market were people trying to create a facsimile in a back room.

          There’s tons of evidence that there are large numbers of people looking for a very specific high or a new experience.

          Take the history of 25i-nbom. This was not some shady backyard chemist trying to make his hooch look more clear by adding bleach to it, this was a PHd student who actually published his findings in his dissertation.

          In fact, it wasn’t even designed for recreational use.

          I can’t speak to any current LSD shortage– I can say it was hella easy to get when I was in my 20s. Except by inference, is there any evidence that 25I has proliferated due to a market/black market shortage of LSD?

          Seriously, read some of the drug threads out there. There are lots of people willing to put any chemical in their mouth if it gives them a new kind of trip.

          As Jake Badlands said above, just because weed is illegal doesn’t mean I’m going to inject Krokodil this weekend.

          1. I don’t know how long ago it was that you were in your 20s, but a few years back there were a couple huge LSD producer busts:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…..rd_Pickard

            The guy’s serving two life sentences. Most murderers don’t get that much.

            1. Yep, I ran into that while googling around how Acid is made (SWAT raid imminent!). Here’s a High Times article discussing why LSD (acid) has had such a precipitous decline.

              The link it to an array of factors, one being the bust of Pickard. And, of course, just because it’s a black market doesn’t mean it doesn’t act like a regular market.

              Apparently the young people are happy with the alternatives which are cheaper and easier to produce (this having little to do with Acid being illegal, because ecstasy is illegal too– so within the illegal market, the illegal price has a natural landing place due to inputs and difficulty of production).

              Of course none of this is to say what where all these drugs would fall on the spectrum if fully legalized.

              If ecstasy is indeed a substitute for acid, then the previous levels of demand for LSD may not return. “Ecstasy is easier to produce and you can get a lot more for it,” says a former user. It’s also more profitable. Tablets of Ecstasy sell for $20-30, while a dose of LSD typically goes for $5. Given such a price structure, it’s easy to see why a chemist would rather produce ecstasy.

              http://www.hightimes.com/read/…..-acid-gone

          2. But again, all of the shenanigans going on in the Alcohol market were people trying to create a facsimile in a back room.

            What do you think synthetic pot, crack, bath salts, etc. are? Facsimiles, created (and/or manufactured) in back rooms.

            My point is that, in a free market, toxic/dangerous/substandard alternatives to widely accepted products don’t get any traction. In a black market, they can and will. It makes no difference that some Heisenberg picked up a formula out of a journal; its the black market that provides the incentives and distribution.

            I would caution you against generalizing from the few aficionados who post their drug experiences online to “lots of people.”

            1. My point is that, in a free market, toxic/dangerous/substandard alternatives to widely accepted products don’t get any traction

              I don’t agree with that. I believe they will get traction– maybe not as often, maybe not as long or as deep, maybe not as many, but that’s what markets do. They continue to tweak and try new forms of a thing– manufacture it cheaper- -make it better and fine tune it.

              I would caution you against generalizing from the few aficionados who post their drug experiences online to “lots of people.”

              I can’t say (obviously) how many people fit the category of “try it, you’ll like it!”, but I would bet (and unfortunately it’s a bet we probably won’t be able to even make in our lifetime) that even with a near elimination of prohibition, that designer drugs will continue to pop up.

              There’s the regulatory question, which I also can’t answer– but it’s reasonable to presume that if all these chemical substances were legal but subject to continuous FDA approval/review, then I assume things will be safe as the current legal drug market.

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