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Jul 01 2012

No Bath Salts in Miami Cannibal Case

The autopsy performed on the guy who was killed by police while eating another man’s face near Miami a few weeks ago showed that the guy did not, as was breathlessly reported, have any “bath salts” in his system. CNN reports:

The naked Florida man who chewed off the face of another man last month in a zombie-like cannibal attack used marijuana but not “bath salts” as police had suspected, authorities said Wednesday.

Rudy Eugene, 31, was killed by a police officer after Eugene’s 18-minute attack on a homeless man. His body didn’t show “any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs,” according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department.

“The department has also sought the assistance of an outside forensic toxicology reference laboratory, which has confirmed the absence of ‘bath salts,’ synthetic marijuana and LSD,” the statement said.

Gosh, you mean that was another faux freakout from the government and the media over another street drug that is supposedly going to wreak havoc on society? What a shock.

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  1. 1
    Brett McCoy

    He had a serious case of the munchies.

  2. 2
    dingojack

    I for one am glad that a guy who ate the face off another human being didn’t have a trace of any of the following in his system:
    magnesiun sulphate
    sodium chloride
    sodium bicarbonate (either hydrogen-sodium or bi-sodium)
    sodium hexametaphosphate
    sodium sesquicarbonate
    borax
    sodium citrate.

    Perhaps they might spend their time looking for, ooh I dunno – drugs.
    @@

    Dingo

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    @Dingo: Assuming you’re probably in Australia, you may not be aware that so-called “bath salts” are a growing drug problem in the USA. They’re sold in packages labeled “bath salts” and “not for internal consumption” but are in fact synthetic “designer” drugs.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_salts_(drug)

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    Allegedly his girlfriend said he was quite religious…

  5. 5
    dingojack

    D’oh!
    Dingo

  6. 6
    neonsequitur

    @Trebuchet #3: I’m in the US and I wasn’t aware of that either, so thanks for explaining. Admittedly, I’m in a poor, middle-of-nowhere, 3rd world county where “designer drugs” means somebody went all-out and found a double-wide for their meth lab. But I try to keep up with the outside world.

  7. 7
    A Hermit

    Did Bible Study and Anti-Drug Vow Cause Miami Cannibal Attack?(HT to Boing Boing)
    http://suburra.com/blog/2012/06/04/bible-study-cannibal/

    “Contrary to media presentations, it appears Eugene did not take bath salts, LSD, or cocaine. According to his girlfriend he frequently used marijuana but refused all other drugs. He even avoided medication for minor ailments like headaches.

    Two days before the attack Eugene and two friends had a Bible study where they discussed how to become better men according to the word of God. Eugene vowed to give up marijuana. It is more likely that this vow – not bath salts – precipitated the attack.

    A 1985 Kent State study found that administrating a moderate to heavy amount of marijuana promotes non-aggression. (4) Although understudied, marijuana’s pacifying effects are obvious to users. A 2007 Danish study of over a hundred marijuana smokers in dependence treatment found that more of them used marijuana to relax (86%) than to get “high” (82%), and nearly half of them smoked marijuana to decrease aggression. (1)

    It is highly probable that a more relaxed and less aggressive Eugene would have behaved differently on that causeway.

    Note: If toxicology reports come back positive for marijuana it does not mean that Eugene was partaking. Heavy marijuana users can test positive for marijuana for up to a month after their last use.”

  8. 8
    leftwingfox

    It’s starting to hit Canada too. The drug that is… the language up here is no better than the mainstream coverage in the US.

    The last story I read from the CBC was drug panic boiler plate. “Here’s the drug, here’s all the horrible terrible things it does to you, it’s as addictive as crystal-meth-soaked heroine cigarettes, and here’swhy this is a huge danger to others, it’s coming your way!”

    What I noticed this time was that there were no actual cases of a bath-salt-mad person attacking the cops referenced. It definitely sounds like the whole issue of PCP, where you have one or two high-profile events that hit the national media, then a lot of echo in pop culture and general conversation blowing a couple isolated events into a national epidemic of superhuman proportions.

  9. 9
    Ace of Sevens

    I’m sure this will get respun as something caused by pot anyway.

  10. 10
    Ed Brayton

    The link in comment 7, alleging that going to Bible study and deciding not to smoke pot anymore is what really led to the attack, is just as idiotic as the earlier hysteria about bath salts. “It’s the fault of whatever I was already opposed to!” How convenient.

  11. 11
    A Hermit

    Ed’s right, that bit about the Bible study is over the top…

    The important point is that the guy had a long history of violence which, if anything, was likely moderated by his use of marijuana.

    It’s also important to note that none of this implies an endorsement of self medication or the use of any street drugs; they may not turn you into a murderous zombie, as the fearmongering news coverage has it, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

  12. 12
    democommie

    Back in the early 80′s I was sitting in the kitchen of the home I lived in, being VERY non-aggrssive. There were several other folks present and one of them was involved in a direct sales campaign. He was making product less toxic (at the same price) by mixing it with a white crystalline powder called, “cut”. I’m not sure what was in it (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t strychnine or rat poison–I’m told that’s only used when one is diluting the hallucinogenic properties of LDS or oneathem other dangerous drugs) but one of the other people present was snorting THAT because he couldn’t afford the Peruvian marching powder. He said it was pretty good shit–I took him at his word having no desire to become aggressive at that moment in time.

  13. 13
    Trebuchet

    I’m told that’s only used when one is diluting the hallucinogenic properties of LDS or oneathem other dangerous drugs…

    Congratulations. You’ve just won the award for Trebuchet’s Typo of the Day!

  14. 14
    Dr X

    Well I know this wasn’t caused by an amphetamine, because they suppress appetite.

  15. 15
    leni

    Manufacturers of the synthetics are constantly tweaking the formulations and re-branding to avoid regulations and bans, so it could also be that the tests they used didn’t detect it. K2 (synthetic marijuana) has caused documented cases of psychosis.

    I’m not sure how likely that is, but intuitively it seems more likely that his *not* having smoked pot.

    And there was another similar case where a man in Texas snapped after smoking K2- attacked his family, then killed the neighbor’s dog and yet- ate it.

  16. 16
    Pseudonym

    I know this has been said a thousand times before, but I’m going to say it anyway.

    Governments are current in an arms race with the drug designers. Backyard chemists are producing new analogues of existing drugs at roughly the same rate as governments can ban them, only with a several-month lag time. So there is a window of a few months where you can legally sell these substances provided you don’t claim that they are for human consumption. This is why they are sold as “plant food”, “bath salts” or something equally ridiculous.

    “Old” drugs such as MDMA have fairly well-understood health effects, or at least, the understanding is as good as it can be for a substance that’s illegal. By contrast, the health effects of these “new” drugs are almost completely unknown. That’s one of the reasons why even smart experts can get caught up in the hysteria over cases like this: nobody actually knows what MDPV can do to you!

    The irony is that it’s precisely the policy of prohibition that effectively encouraging people to use substances which could well be more dangerous than that which is prohibited.

  17. 17
    logic

    leni says: so it could also be that the tests they used didn’t detect it

    They probably use a general test for cathinones (ie, for the cathinone moiety common to all of them), so minor tweaks don’t matter. As an example, there are hundreds of chemicals that will come up positive as amphetamine.

  18. 18
    democommie

    Trebuchet:

    I would be lying if I said I didn’t do it on purpose. I think that the SLC Morons are at least as deluded as I ever was on purple microdot.

  19. 19
    dingojack

    Well, that and Demo did a little too much LDS in the sixties.
    8D Dingo

  20. 20
    CT Chimako.27

    I read an article last week, that I can’t find, that pointed out that despite marijuana’s good rep, there are studies showing that sometimes in some individuals it can cause/excerbate psychiatric disorders. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve that this might be that case here and a lot of reason to believe it. That doesn’t make marijuana bad, it just means some people have problems with it, like antibiotics or codeine.

  21. 21
    leni

    logic:

    They probably use a general test for cathinones (ie, for the cathinone moiety common to all of them), so minor tweaks don’t matter. As an example, there are hundreds of chemicals that will come up positive as amphetamine.

    That could very well be.

    I mentioned it because I’d recently read this:

    Goldberger said that the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and that he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

    “There are many of these synthetic drugs that we currently don’t have the methodology to test on, and that is not the fault of the toxicology lab. The challenge today for the toxicology lab is to stay on top of these new chemicals and develop methodologies for them, but it’s very difficult and very expensive.” Goldberger said. “There is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

  22. 22
    caseloweraz

    “Congratulations. You’ve just won the award for Trebuchet’s Typo of the Day!”

    Perhaps democommie was thinking of Star Trek IV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgHxFNFWlZc

  23. 23
    escuerd

    CT @ 21:

    I read an article last week, that I can’t find, that pointed out that despite marijuana’s good rep, there are studies showing that sometimes in some individuals it can cause/excerbate psychiatric disorders.

    That’s apparently true for schizophrenia, and possibly for depression too. This case doesn’t sound like either one, really. Then again, I don’t know what it does sound like.

    I don’t see any reason to disbelieve that this might be that case here and a lot of reason to believe it.

    It might be, but it seems like a pretty strong conclusion to draw given that cannabis use is fairly common in the U.S., and the metabolites that tests search for tend to be pretty long-lived. Not sure what sort of tests they were doing, though (THC itself is metabolized fairly quickly, IIRC). Still, one data point isn’t much, especially when the putative cause has a pretty high baseline rate.

  24. 24
    escuerd

    But, I will add, that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspect that, given that pot exacerbates some disorders, it might have exacerbated whatever the hell was going on with this guy too. Just highly tentative.

  1. 25
    Engaging Children In Science – Samantha Stein At The Sixth World … | Quantum POP

    [...] No Bath Salts in Miami Cannibal Case by Ed Brayton [...]

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