Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Trip-seeking humans as threat to Sonoran desert toads:

 Via the New York Times, an article about Sonoran desert toads and their toxins: 

...When the toad is threatened, it excretes toxins strong enough to kill full-grown dogs. A substance found in these toxins, 5-MeO-DMT, can be dried into crystals and smoked in a pipe, producing an intense experience generally lasting 15 to 30 minutes, in contrast to other psychedelic substances that can involve hours of hallucinating and vomiting.

Five-MeO-DMT remains effectively illegal in the United States, where it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance. But while many users opt to attend retreats in Mexico, where it is legal, ceremonies are also taking place in the United States, where law enforcement agencies are largely tolerating its growing popularity.

Celebrities from Chelsea Handler to Joe Rogan have smoked the substance, commonly called Five or Bufo (after the toad’s former scientific name, Bufo alvarius; it’s been renamed Incilius alvarius). As researchers start looking into the safety of 5-MeO-DMT, reports of adverse experiences are also occasionally emerging.

For instance, a photographer died in one episode in Spain in 2020 after smoking the poison. At some retreats, operators have paramedics on standby to help people who might have negative reactions.

If you read the article, there is some worry that these psychedelic practices (and their subsequent demand for toad toxin) could have negative impacts on the toad as they are harvested. Seems to me a place where synthetic chemistry could be useful in protecting the toad (in providing an easier to obtain and (cheaper?) source. 

There is a weird employment angle (of course) to this. It seems to me that the number of chemists involved in psychedelic-type chemistry over the past ~10 years hasn't gone down and very likely has gone up. I imagine the number of high-wage jobs in these fields is relatively low, which is why I imagine that chemists that work with psychedelics are primarily interested in a personal sense, but you could easily imagine that "the medicinal (?) chemistry of psychedelics" will continue to increase as the federal government seems unlikely to impose further regulations via the DEA. Developing... 

1 comment:

  1. One environmentally friendly source could be the Cane toad (formerly Bufo, now Rhinella marina), an introduced species here in Australia causing serious damage. People would probably pay you to take them away, here. This might offset the extra difficulties; Wikipedia suggests they secrete the 5-hydroxy- rather than 5-methoxy-DMT, and the natural abundance is already lower even before you can get it extracted, methylated, and purified from the associated cardiac glycosides. Currently would be very difficult to do this in Australia as bufotenin is a Schedule 9 Prohibited Substance (noone told the toads, apparently), but as psychedelic therapy becomes more acceptable in the USA we will catch up eventually.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20