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Secretions From Colorado Toad Contain Powerful Psychedelic Compound


July 1994

There are growing numbers of people seeking to get high by licking or smoking the poisonous excretions from the backs of toads. (AP, "When Toads Are Outlawed ... ," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/17/94). The effect of the drug, known as bufotenine, apparently eclipses the psychedelic powers of LSD.

Licking the backs of the toads is considered dangerous, so the majority of users have turned to smoking a dried form of the venom. Apparently the heat from smoking the drug breaks down the chemical structure, rendering it less toxic.

Andrew Weil, MD, a physician and expert on exotic and indigenous drug use, said "the Colorado Toad is a virtual psychedelic factory, whose venom produces a 20 minute high and is so intense, it can be frightening to the uninitiated. I've seen people take one deep puff and fall over backward as they exhale."

Because the toad population is in danger, environmental protection laws, as well as drug laws, are being enacted to prevent their use as a drug. In California, it is a misdemeanor to possess the Colorado Toad. (Bill Richards "Toad Smoking Gains on Toad-Licking Among Drug Users," The Wall Street Journal, 3/7/94).

In April, California drug agents arrested a man for possession of bufotenine and impounded his Colorado River toads. Narcotics agents say that this may be the first arrest made on toad-smoking charges.

Despite the toxic properties of the toad secretions, there have been no reported casualties from "smoking toad". (Larry Gallagher, "Smoking Toad," The New York Times Magazine, 6/5/94, p. 48).