Word of the day? Enucleation. As in someone “wet” on PCP ripping out their eyeballs because they believe they are looking at Satan. A patient at a hospital at which I interned did this to both of her eyes for that very reason, before she found her way somehow into the furnace of her previous hospital and fried off all four of her limbs. What a way to learn a new word!

So I believe angel dust is a uniquely nasty drug. It’s appealing to drug users in that it’s cheap, it can be pleasurable and fun depending on one’s trip, and it has a long half-life. It can temporarily satisfy one’s intense craving to the drug and it doesn’t need to be injected, rather one can smoke a cigarette laced with it and get a rapid onset.

Because what it does to individuals and society is so awful, the penalties for possessing the drug even for personal use are relatively steep. It is easily-manufactured and, in its liquid form, easily trafficked in the States. It is cheap and cost-effective for users, cookers and dealers, a high-margin drug. And because it’s cheap, like crack, it is disproportionately popular among blacks, both users and dealers.

PCP tears families apart. Literally: People on it are liable to get naked (it raises your body temperature, so you get naked), tear out their guts, their eyeballs, stab their daughters, set their houses on fire and go confess to the cops. Search for it on Youtube and you’ll quickly get the picture.

What the drug will do to you when you smoke a cigarette that’s been dipped in the liquid, usually trafficked from the west coast, is a total mystery. It sounds like a drug that will give you permanent brain damage, like Ecstasy, but I didn’t bother to look that up because if you’re a chronic PCP user, you’ve got bigger problems than not being able to generate as much serotonin in the miraculous event of your kicking the habit.

Phencyclidine is a dissociative anesthetic like Ketamine (aka Special K), and depending on which way the wind blows, it can calm you down (a soporific, a fancy word for sleep-inducing), it can take your pain away (it’s an analgesic, a fancy word for painkiller), or it can induce a turbo-charged psychotic schizophrenic-like state packing delusions of all sorts (a hallucinogen, a fancy word for psychomimetic) and wildly violent and sometimes homicidal behavior. Trippy stuff:


Denzel illustrates PCP’s effects in Training Day (NSFW, 1080p)

Oftentimes, as violent, loud, nude public behavior is both socially-undesirable, with behavioral symptoms that are sort of hard to conceal and enjoy on the down-low, it will land a user in a hospital that is likely to be packed with fellow PCP enthusiasts as the consumption of the drug spikes on the days on which welfare benefits are given out. Hospitals prepare for an influx of cops and EMS dragging in such patients on those days.

It can kill you directly by inducing cardiopulmonary arrest, intracranial hemorrhage in hypertension, and hyperkalemia secondary to rhabdomyolysis, however most PCP-related deaths result from the user’s crazy behavior, compounded by its painkilling effects, senses of omnipotence and psychosis: walking into traffic, jumping off buildings, even enucleation.

What I found surprising, to bring this back to the title I chose, is that the drug is not completely illegal in the States: It is a schedule two drug (there are five DEA schedules for drugs, schedule one being totally illegal, schedule five being herpes medicine and wart cream).

Like Ketamine again, because it is a dissociative anesthetic, for whatever reasons it does not make animals go nuts, and because someone decided that that is enough of a necessary therapeutic contribution to society to outweigh everything else I just wrote, veterinarians may prescribe it.

So last night after watching this sad documentary, wondering how much jail time one gets for getting caught in possession of the drug, I googled PCP drug laws. What came up? A bunch of hits to websites of lawyers for you to hire if you get busted.

Nervous that Google would think I’m a PCP addict, I tapped on an academic-looking link, but it was a law firm website in California. It listed the bullet points of California PCP laws, italicizing the loopholes that it implied the firm could help you exploit including drug rehab but weirdly also highlighting “veterinarian’s prescription,” that having one on your person at the time of your arrest could be legally helpful.

So all I have to do, law firm website with nifty javascript and a well-done mobile version, is make friends with (or threaten) the lady sewing up my bulldog’s fight wounds to scribble a prescription for the drug (or steal her pad) and I’m good to go? Evidently so.

Whatever unusual veterinarians situation in which the drug is desirable cannot possibly outweigh the drug being made slightly more obtainable, in my opinion at least (also the Canadians), and the drug should be no less illegal than marijuana; it should be a schedule one controlled substance for its abuse potential, extreme danger and unsubstitutable medicinal value.

You know, like weed.

Doug Simmons

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