By now, you’ve heard of the Causeway Cannibal case out of Miami.
That’s the homeless man Rudy Eugene, who attacked Ronald Poppo, chewing off 75% of his face.
Miami police originally attributed Eugene’s rabid behavior as the behavior as someone under the influence of bath salts.
Earlier this week, authorities revealed the results of the toxicology tests.
The only drug present in Eugene’s system was marijuana.
My colleague, Scott, joked that this must be Reefer Madness, a salute to the 1936 film that essentially detailed that pot smokers would become rapists, murderers, and a general threat to society.
I waited for a few days to write up this story, because authorities cannot let synthetic drugs off the hook in this one.
Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida, breaks down the difficulty in detecting synthetic drugs in tests.
He told CBS News, “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.”
Ask anyone in addiction treatment or law enforcement and they will tell you that their best guess would be that Eugene had something else, undetectable, in his system.
And while, CBS News also attributed another professor who offered the plausibility that a Satitva strain of marijuana could have increased Eugene’s dopamine levels and sent him into this maniacal rage, it seems highly unlikely.
This is the problem with trying to make these substance illegal, and detecting them. The chemical compositions change routinely. There are hundreds if not thousands of different chemicals out there. They have been characterized as spice, incense, or bath salts, but they go by numerous names, and varying chemical compounds.
According to two very handy guides from ABC2 News, these are just a few of the popular names for synthetic marijuana: K2, Spice, Pep Spice, Black Mamba, Ocean Breeze, Dragon, Bombay Blue
Bath Salts also are selling under a different names. Here’s a brief list of some of the products: Bath salts, Plant food, Ivory Wave, Blow, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky, Aura, Zeus 2, Zoom, Bliss, Blue Silk, White Lightning, Ocean, Charge, Cosmic Blast, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Cloud 9, Energy 1, White Dove,
And there are countless other products.
A quick Google of the words “not for human consumption” under the images tab reveals all types of packages and canisters with synthetic products.
The bottom line is, we may never know what caused Eugene to go on the attack that day. But his symptoms and behaviors certainly could be pinpointed to being under the influence of a synthetic drug.
Detecting them is very difficult. This is why the FDA has been partly reluctant to offer an approval on a drug test. It’s hard to find one with great accuracy.
But parents should be alerting their teens and young adult children to the fact that these substances are dangerous.
Eating the powder of recently took the life of an East Grand Forks, MN boy, and put his best friend behind bars to face murder, manslaughter, and selling to minor felony charges.
Understanding the information about these products is key. The government is trying to ban them, but the chemists creating them keep skirting the bans by altering the composition of the drugs.