I love poisoning people. No, not in a murderous sort of way. I just derive a great deal of joy from giving people chemicals and seeing what sort of reactions they have to them. Think of me like a doctor or a scientist. Admittedly, perhaps, my predilections might be more akin to that of a “mad” scientist, but we’ve all got start somewhere. And say what you will, but the world needs people like me. Just think of all the brilliant advances we’ve had in the fields of biochemistry, psychiatry, epidemiology, and genetics research all because of few passionate souls willing to cross the line in the name of research.
If I’m being honest the word “poison” might be a tad inflammatory and categorically reductive. In a technical sense, I like the preparing chemicals and then seeing how various substances interact with different people (including myself, mind you). Sometimes you test substances through lacing food or drinks, mislabeling or misidentifying medication, or just offering your patient said substance. Those substances range from things as mild as caffeine and melatonin to things as potentially dangerous as chlorine and various types of ethers.
Granted, I am not a professional chemist. Which means that my limited knowledge and lack of procedural efficiency results in many of my experiments being accurately characterized as “ill-conceived” bordering on dangerous. But I assure you, with only a few notable exceptions, it’s all in good fun and in the interest of learning. I even keep activated charcoal and various other antidotes (e.g. calcium chloride, amyl nitrite, etc.) around in the event that any potential mishaps arise. Remember: always have a safety mechanism and an exit strategy – best case scenario it looks like you saved someone’s life, worst case scenario you have some element of plausible deniability.
Well in this particular tale I was experimenting with two interesting little “natural” drugs: harmine (courtesy of a plant called Peganum harmala a.k.a Syrian Rue), and d-lysergic acid amide (courtesy of a little plant called Ipomoea tricolor a.k.a Morning Glory). At the time, I had picked these two plants because both are readily available and have a rich history of folk medicine and traditional religious use. Plus I was just genuinely curious about what they did. Now this wasn’t my first rodeo with either of these. I had been growing Syrian rue for the better part of year, and morning glory is basically a weed.
The chemicals in morning glory and Syrian rue are interesting. Both are alkaloids – a fancy group of chemicals that do everything from getting you high, to saving your life, to killing you in horrible ways. Both are moderately hallucinogenic, and both can make you feel inordinately sick. Morning Glory can be consumed in seed form (though if your going to do that, I’d caution you from eating the ones you buy at the store as they are often treated with a variety of unpleasant toxic agents). Syrian Rue on the other hand seems fairly versatile. The seeds are typically the aim of most users, but the root and little stalks seem moderately effective as well. I would need a larger plant and more time to experiment in order to confirm this, but it seemed to have some notable effects.
Well without going into too much detail I had been preparing my Morning Glory seeds for several weeks. I had heard about extraction techniques using naphtha (lighter fluid; a petroleum distillate), and figured I would try it to see if it worked. After processing the seed material and letting the icky liquid dry most of the naphtha evaporated. It left behind a ticker gummy brown residue (which still smelled mildly of naphtha actually). None of this struck me as right. Having prepared LSA from morning glory seeds in the past, usually the extraction process doesn’t leave behind to much of anything. Water-based extractions are fairly easy and obviously don’t leave any sort of oil smelling tar behind.
But despite my concerns I figured I would see what it did. My girlfriend and a lovely friend of mine named Rick had volunteered to try some, and I figured the worst that could happen would be benzene poisoning and maybe cancer… But come on – with the advent of cell phones we’re all going to get cancer in 40 years anyway. My girlfriend tried a bit and Eric had the rest.
After some time, Rick complained of an upset stomach. A common side effect of morning glory consumption; it was certainly nothing that could be solely attributed to the naphtha. Well after a reasonable amount of time, Rick’s stomach ache worsended. My girlfriend on the other hand seemed to feel fine. Rick, in an attempt to banish his nausea requested that we smoke some weed.
Let me pause briefly and state that I have almost zero interest in the feeling of “being high”. I like having my wits about me. The vast majority of the time when Rick offers me weed I just pretend to partake as I progressively see how much I can convince him to smoke. After about three or four hits, he typically gets distracted by something (a TV, my library, etc.) and I’m able to simply hold the pipe or bong for a 10 seconds, make a mild coughing noise, and hand it back to him so he thinks he not smoking alone. To date, he’s only noticed once.
Well tonight was a bit disappointing – I didn’t really want Rick to smoke weed because I wanted to see the pure effects of my likely cancer-causing petroleum paste. But he was adamant, so I figure it would be an ideal time to test out some of the pre-dried parts of my Syrian Rue (as decent amount actually). Rick is one of my best friends in the world; he’s an adventurous chap. So when I told him I wanted to add Syrian Rue to his weed he did little more than ask what the name of the plant was before promptly agreeing. Both he and my aforementioned girlfriend smoked some.
Rick spent the remained of the evening in bathroom attempting to vomit. Apparently he couldn’t. I causally suggested he try sticking his finger down his throat which also failed to yield any results for the poor devil. After nearly an hour of not vomiting he spent the remainder of the evening writhing on my couch. Obviously some sort of hallucinogenic experience presented itself as Rick would later describe the evening as horrible but with the odd effect of an an “all over body-high”. According to him the only reason he survived was because my cat slept on his chest and acted as his “spirit guide”. I suspect some level of poisoning from the naphtha as my cat actually spent very little time on his chest over the course of the night, and what Rick may instead have been feeling was something like chest tightness. The few times my cat did spend on Rick I thought may have been either some type of intuitive animal sympathy or the cat was just waiting for Rick to die so he could eat the fleshy parts of his face.
My girlfriend, meanwhile, had clearly been effected by the Syrian Rue. She spent several hours rolling around on the bed oscillating between a fear based response regarding at someone crying outside the window (it was completely silent) to laughing at “Eskimos”. She didn’t really elaborate on what the latter meant. When I pointed out that it was silent and no one was crying she’d perk up and laughingly tell me she could “hear better” than I could. While she was correct – my hearing isn’t great and I have mild tinnitus in my right ear – there was no trace of anyone outside.
Another time I began steadily dosing my friend Brent with decent sized quantities of caffeine – Brent at that time refused to drink caffeinated beverages for the most part. Sorry Brent – I was testing the effects caffeine would have on your sleep schedules and productivity. When it started to yield results (Brent would call me at odd hours talking about all sort of projects and fun readings he had done – he at one point even observed he had a lot more energy); I wanted continue so as to induce a mild physical addiction to caffeine. That way when I stopped adding it to all his drinks he would start having headaches. He did complain headaches. I enjoyed myself roundly. Sorry again Brent.