Was reading this out of the Harrison Times...Geez!!!
You might know about the methamphetamine problem in Arkansas and all across the United States.
But there's another substance that's gaining popularity, although it's equally dangerous - possibly even more so, officials say.
Although this substance is only now coming to light, it's not necessarily new to drug investigators. It's been around for a couple of years.
"A good year-and-a-half for sure," says Greg Harris, 14th Judicial Drug Task Force executive director.
Still, it's new enough that it doesn't even really have a street name attached to it. Harris said all he's ever heard it called is "crystal," which is also a slang term for meth. One Internet Web site listing a recipe for it called it "Easter Bunny Meth."
Even the process to make it is kind of mysterious.
Harris said a combination of gun bluing and other household materials are mixed in an aquarium. Then, cotton twine, possibly even the head of a string mop, is suspended just above the surface of the mixture - thus, it's sometimes called "string dope," the Web site said.
The Web site said the concoction is buried for somewhere between two to six weeks. At that time, crystals will have formed on the string. Those crystals are then removed and smoked.
The resulting effect is not altogether different from meth; the user's heartbeat races, blood pressure rises, pupils dilate.
But, officials say it's not clear if it affects the brain in the same way as meth by blocking the body's dopamine production resulting in a "high."
Harris said the process has only been described to him and he's never really seen it in action.
"We got an aquarium in a basement that had been used for that," he said, recalling one search warrant execution. They found some of the ingredients and cotton twine, but it wasn't really in operation at the time.
Harris said investigators first came across the substance while doing a search warrant in the northern part of the Boone County. They didn't know what it was and thought it might have been a process to synthesize pseudoephedrine, a precursor of meth.
So, Harris called Norman Kemper, a senior chemist with the Arkansas State Crime Lab. He said Kemper had never heard of it before, but set about tracing the process to determine what it produced.
Kemper told the Daily Times that it appears the process actually is a way to recover selenium from the selenious acid in gun bluing.
Selenium, Kemper explains, is a substance the human body needs. It's in most multivitamins, but only in micrograms.
When the selenium crystals are smoked, the user gets dosage in milligrams and is actually suffering from selenium poisoning, which can cause hair and fingernails to fall out and teeth to decay.
The other effects of selenium poisoning aren't all known.
Kemper says this new process is one of several that surfaced after pseudoephedrine was made a controlled substance and is harder to obtain as users try different methods to make meth.
Kemper hopes parents might look at what their children are doing. What looks like a science experiment may be something much more dangerous.
He says that because the recipe is readily available on the Internet, some youth might experiment with it thinking they're experimenting with drugs. But it's not meth.
And, Kemper says, the reason the substance hasn't really proliferated is because "ice," a concentrated, crystalline form of meth that is smoked, is so available now.
Harris knows all about ice as well. He said the first ice that came into this area was in large crystal form, resembling quartz.
And although ice and "Easter Bunny Meth" are both crystals, they do look different to Harris and he believes he can recognize the difference when the crystals are whole.
But the ice now coming into the area is in smaller form, like large grains of salt, because it's been crushed. At that point, it's not possible to tell the difference between actual ice and the selenium substance.
It's quite possible that dealers are buying a quantity of ice, crunching it up and mixing the selenium substance with it to "cut" or bulk up the quantity to increase profit. So, users could very well be ingesting the selenium substance without knowing it.
"They probably are at this point in time," Harris said. Still, there's a more frustrating problem for law enforcement: Because the new substance isn't meth, it's not a controlled substance and isn't technically illegal by itself.
Harris explains that if the substance is being represented as meth and sold, that's illegal. Or if it's being made to use to "cut" meth, it's illegal.
But Harris says he doesn't have the time or manpower necessary to chase down those people just making it.
So, is it a problem the legislature should address sometime soon? Harris wonders how to best go about it.
Any law against the substance, because it's not technically a drug, would have to be against manufacturing it with intentions of using it as cut or to sell as meth.
"It's all about intent," Harris said.
Although those concerns are valid, Harris also wonders about the health problems associated with "Easter Bunny Meth."
For instance, if someone is using meth and has health problems as a result, he/she is not generally willing to tell a doctor they've been doing the drug.
Many medical professionals know the symptoms of meth use and could mistake them for symptoms of the new substance. Or, if a patient's blood tests positive for meth, doctors might not know selenium poisoning might also be present.
Presently, Harris said, he's not even aware of a test for selenium, so finding out about health problems associated with the new substance is a question in and of itself.
"We have no way to know," Harris says