Day 717: The Dope On Dope (And The Dopes Who Dope On Dope)

originally published December 17, 2013

We here at 1000-Word Industries would never advocate the use of illegal drugs as a recreational pastime. We all know that marijuana is the gateway drug that leads 97.4% of its users to harder drugs like bath salts and ostrich-adrenaline. It has been well documented that so-called “magic” mushrooms are nothing more than regular supermarket mushrooms laced with strychnine and that dark evil stuff that makes people explode in the movie Time Bandits. And that drug the kids call ‘ecstasy’ is simply PCP mixed with Ovaltine, sold in a cute Hello Kitty pill.

We’ve done our homework. We know the facts. That’s why the only intoxicants we imbibe are cooking sherry and inhaling the hearty musk of strangers on the bus.

A number of notable misconceptions about illegal drugs are steering kids down dangerous alleys. We feel it is our duty to debunk that which schoolyard gossip and youthful idiocy continues to bunk. The absence of truth is perhaps the most dangerous drug of all. Well, except meth. That shit will destroy you.

Dating back to the late 1970’s, giggling pranksters have spread terror and paranoia (or, ‘terranoia’) among parents with the distribution of flyers that warned of temporary tattoos that were being distributed to children, often in the shape of a blue star, but sometimes with characters kids might want to slap on their skin like Superman or Mickey Mouse. These tattoos are laced with LSD in an attempt to get kids hooked on the drug. LSD! The children! Terranoia!

Except that LSD is not addictive. And no one has ever unleashed such weird and brutal cruelty on random children. My theory is that this rumor was started as an anti-Dallas-Cowboys campaign, probably by insane Philadelphia Eagles fans.

Another common LSD myth tells the tale of a man who dropped acid and became convinced he was a glass of orange juice, even after the drug wore off. He must sit upright and avoid any sudden movements lest he spill his innards – and he exists with this mental anguish every day of his life. Never happened, and this is probably one of the worst stories you can tell kids to deter them from trying drugs. What kid doesn’t want to be a refreshing and tasty beverage?

I heard these stories in high school: marijuana today is 20 or 30 times more potent than the stuff our parents used to smoke back in the day. The reality is that pot has grown mightier, but only about two or three times mightier than it was when your weird Uncle Harvey got busted for burning a reefer with an unlicensed mullet outside that J. Geils Band concert back in 1982. This is a tough statistic to quantify though, given that samples from back then have degraded over time. Besides, there is crap-weed today just as there was premium zonk-grass back then, so we’ll never have more than ballpark estimates.

Another claim – and this must be a claim made by people who have never tried the drug – is that pot can remain in your fat cells and leave you mired in a low-grade buzz for days after you smoke it. Days. While it’s true that smoking a lot can give you a hangover of sorts, I have never known anyone to report a marijuana high that still resonated 24 hours later. If such a strain existed, I imagine its sales would be through the roof.

We are quite a ways past MDMA’s 1990’s touchy-grindy-rave heyday, but the urban legends surrounding the drug still linger on. “Ecstasy will leave physical holes in your brain,” we were told. Well, no. There are no drugs that will Swiss-cheezify your think-machine. If a habitual user undergoes a SPECT-scan, it might show diminished activity in certain parts of the brain, but that’s not the same as physical holes. Besides, the vote’s not in yet as to whether or not the damage is permanent.

Ecstasy will not cause Parkinson’s Disease either. There was a study that suggested a possible link, but then the researchers realized they had accidentally fed methamphetamine, not MDMA to the animals. Whoops!

Strangely, there are currently studies in place that are looking into MDMA as a possible treatment for Parkinson’s. Researchers at Duke University have noted Parkinson’s-like symptoms in mice were successfully reversed by certain drugs, including ecstasy. Whether this will progress to an all-out legal treatment for the disease, one can only hope.

I’ve never heard a first-hand account of PCP or angel dust usage, nor have I ventured across that rickety bridge myself. But I have heard the claim that the drug is chemically the same thing as embalming fluid, an urban myth I found particularly uproarious, either as a selling feature or cautionary warning. Apparently some folks who were desperate for a good high-energy, angry-as-fuck high have dipped their cigarettes or joints into actual embalming fluid to try it out. Formaldehyde is notoriously toxic, so this idiotic experiment probably didn’t end well.

Some say PCP will give you superhuman strength. This is only true inasmuch as you won’t feel the pain of your muscles tearing to tatters when you try to lift that Volkswagen out of your favorite parking space. But you might feel that bogus sense of hefty might on any stimulant drug. Hell, I experience that whenever I stub my toe and feel momentarily justified in punching the offending piece of furniture that stubbed me. It doesn’t last, and the surge of rage-juice just ain’t worth it.

As many misconceptions as there are about drug use, there are probably just as many when it comes to drug testing. People who fear the loss of their jobs but can’t bring themselves not to get high on the weekend have tried drinking vinegar to pass their drug test. And while it’s true vinegar can lower the pH in your blood and urine which might get you past some initial screening tests, you can achieve the same result with Vitamin C or other things that won’t make you vomit when you gulp too much down.

Popping a bunch of niacin (vitamin B3) won’t help either. But that’s okay, you can just pass the blame right? It worked for Michael Phelps!

Actually, no. To get a positive on a marijuana test through only second-hand smoke, you’d need to have inhaled a lot of it. Maybe you were in a hotboxed Pontiac Sunbird while your buddies burnt a spliff. You might test positive, but then you probably also got good and blazed too, so you deserve it. Up until 1998, Ibuprofen could give you false positives for marijuana and some barbiturates, but the tests are more sophisticated now and that won’t happen.

The poppy seed bagel phenomenon could still give you a false positive for opiates though, so you may want to watch for that. And if you’re looking to pass off your heroin use on a Dunkin’ Donuts everything-bagel, you should know that modern tests can dig a little deeper and will reveal conclusively whether or not heroin was taken.

Don’t believe everything you hear about drugs. First-hand research is always the best tool. But… ummm… don’t do that either. In fact, forget everything I said and just have a beer.

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