Update on Miami ‘face eater’ and Bath Salts

28 June 2012 by Suzi Gage, posted in Uncategorized

Sorry for the silence on the blog recently, a combination of gigs in exciting locations (Odessa sea front), conferences practically in the Arctic Circle (Oulu – blog on that to come) and hiding in Cornwall to write some papers have meant I haven’t had a moment, but…

I’ve just seen that the toxicology report came back on Tuesday for Rudy Eugene, the man shot dead by police while chewing another man’s face on the side of the causeway.

Initially a drug called bath salts was blamed, and I wrote a blog about the drug, also commenting that there was as yet no evidence he had taken anything at all.

And so back to the toxicology report. According to reports in The Guardian and The Huffington Post, none of the chemicals usually present in bath salts were found during the toxicology tests. In fact, the only drug found in his body was cannabis (I assume this means they found delta-9-THC – the active component of cannabis, but I can’t find anywhere that reports this).

This quote was taken from the Guardian, who were quoting a press release from the Medical Examiner’s office:

“The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs. This includes cocaine, LSD, amphetamines (ecstasy, meth and others), phencyclidine (PCP or “angel dust”), heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana (“spice”), and many other similar compounds."

So it doesn’t sound like it was ‘bath salts madness’ then – but could cannabis cause this kind of extreme reaction? Well, there is evidence from a randomised controlled trial that delta-9-THC intoxication can transiently induce the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, namely paranoia, grandiose delusions, hallucinations and depersonalisation (see D’Souza et al, 2004 for the trial).

However, seeing things or feeling paranoid isn’t quite the same as what happened in Miami, so once again, I think it’s likely to be a little more complicated than a drug causing a reaction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this development to the story!


3 Responses to “Update on Miami ‘face eater’ and Bath Salts”

  1. Smart SE Reply | Permalink

    This doesn’t come as much of a surprise…

    One thing you should note though is that THC is only one of the active compounds in cannabis – there are many more. You might be interested to read “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects”. Another possible explanation though is that he was high on something that hasn’t been identified so far. There are so many new drugs appearing and something labelled as ‘bath salts’ could contain anything. Finally, he could have just been having a psychotic episode – it kind of reminds me of the director of Kony 2012 being found naked on the street. The brain can do many strange things without any external influence.

  2. Suzi Gage Reply | Permalink

    Absolutely. I mention THC because it’s the only active compound in cannabis where there’s any evidence for it causing psychotic episodes.Theree is some evidence that another cannabis compound (CBD) actually might have anti psychotic properties (excellent research into this by Curran and Morgan, among others). I will check out that article you mention, thanks!

    As for the danger of a white powder like baths salts containing anything, I couldn’t agree more. Unregulated drugs like this could contain all sorts of novel compounds. This is a point I tried to make in my first post.

    And absolutely, psychosis can occur without any drug use. I think the dramatic nature of this man’s episode was so extreme it made people WANT there to be an external explanation. And as I saw suggested in another post about the toxicology report results, I imagine this will be used as evidence for the dangers of bath salts in the media for years to come.

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