Law enforcement authorities have discovered that people are willing to go to great lengths to get high, including a troubling new method that features a frightened toad.
"Toad smoking," which is a substitute for "toad licking," is done by extracting venom from the Sonoran Desert toad of the Colorado River. The toad's venom — which is secreted when the toad gets angry or scared — contains a hallucinogen called bufotenine that can be dried and smoked to produce a buzz.
In October, a Kansas City man was charged with possessing a controlled substance after Clay County authorities determined he possessed a toad with the intent to use its venom to get high.
Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White said possessing the toad is not illegal, but using it to get high off its venom is.
"It is easier to get it, and law enforcement might not immediately know you use it to get high," White said. "It's sort of a New Age way to get high. You convince yourself it is OK because it is something you get naturally from our environment.
"There are a lot of things that are created naturally but they are still not legal," he said.
White said that for years people experimented with "toad licking," and now toad smoking is considered a substitute. To do so, a person heats up the frog's venom to break down its toxins and preserve the hallucinogen, which is dried.
He said some Internet sites feature an instructional video on how to extract the toad's venom.
Police found the toad when they went to a northern Kansas City home to investigate a suspected meth lab. They later arrested David S. Theiss, 21, and charged him with three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia — the toad.
Theiss also is accused of possessing mescaline, a controlled substance extracted from a cactus.
While smoking toad venom might sound extreme, an even more disturbing method to get high possibly includes sniffing fermented human waste. Vicky Ward, manager of prevention services at Tri-County Mental Health Services in Kansas City, said she has read e-mail warnings about a drug called jenkem.
The drug is made from fermented feces and urine.
"We work with a lot of youths and we ask them whether anyone has tried it and they said no," Ward said. "They (the youths) have heard about it because of the Internet."
But whether people actually use of jenkem has not been determined, Ward said, noting that a Web site that investigates urban legends isn't clear on the matter.
"Kids get ideas that later turn out to be unfounded, but you will get some idiots who will try anything," she said.