Published November 06, 2007
An implausible story about a natural high derived from human waste is causing a stink on the Internet and has forced a local sheriff's department to issue a warning about the "drug."
The Collier County Sheriff's Office in Tampa, Fla., recently released a bulletin warning of a new drug threat in America — jenkem — made by fermenting human feces and urine and huffing the gas produced.
"We wouldn't classify it as a drug so much because it's feces and urine," said Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C.
"You've pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel if you're experimenting this," he added.
The confidential memo, dated Sept. 26, was meant "for officer safety and awareness," but it was leaked and found its way online, where it was posted Monday on the Smoking Gun, which questioned "what they're inhaling down in Collier County."
Internet pundits were quick to jump on the intelligence briefing, noting that the photos and descriptions of the high jenkem produced came from "Pickwick," a contributor to the Web site Totse.com, who later admitted his "use" of jenkem was faked using flour, water, beer and Nutella.
"I never inhaled any poop gas and got high off it," he wrote on Sept. 24. "I have deleted the pictures, hopefully no weirdo saved them to his computer. I just don't want people to ever recognize me as the kid who huffed poop gas."
A spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff's Office acknowledged Tuesday that the report came from their office "just to share, see what's out there" after a parent e-mailed the department. No incidents of jenkem's use have been reported in the county, she said.
Snopes.com, a site that investigates urban legends, labeled jenkem's use in America as "undetermined."
Both the New York Times and the British Broadcasting Corp. have reported jenkem's use among children in Lusaka, Zambia, in the late 1990s.
And even if someone is doing it stateside, it's not necessarily illegal, Courtney said.
"It falls into the probables," Courtney said. "Even though it's not illegal, it's part of that experimental thing that people could possibly do to try to get some type of euphoric effect. Why they would want to do this would be beyond us."