Bizarre New Drug Making Its Way into the Tampa Bay Area

A Bizarre New Drug in Tampa Bay

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 | By Cooper Samp

Some thrill-seekers are finding a new way to get high in Hillsborough County by lacing Marijuana with formaldehyde or phencyclidine (PCP).  

There have been several reports of users smoking marijuana cigarettes dipped in other ingredients in a potentially harmful fashion. This altered form of marijuana, referred to in the vernacular as “illy,”, “fry,” or “wet,” was first reported in the 1970s and can now be procured rather readily. These “Wet” cigarettes are conventional marijuana cigarettes that have been dipped into various fluids or laced with additional substances. The precise ingredients involved in this augmentation process may or may not be known by the end-user. The most frequently reported method involves the dipping of marijuana into embalming fluid for the formaldehyde that has been mixed with phencyclidine (PCP). [1]

Getting High off of Embalming Fluid

Cases of people smoking “wet marijuana” may be weirder than the act itself. A man in the Tampa Bay area, Reginald Gray, was arrested after an individual found his two-year-old son wandering near a Davenport Waffle House at 4 o’clock in the morning.[4] According to his girlfriend,

“when he smokes that marijuana soaked in embalming fluid, he does really crazy things.”

In another case, Joshua Lee Long of Pennsylvania stole a human brain so he could use the formaldehyde it had been soaked in to get high. He named the brain “Freddy” and hid it under his friend’s porch. Authorities eventually found the brain and Joshua was arrested for burglary.

Investigators say users have been known to steal embalming fluid from funeral homes or use cookbook chemistry to make it at home. [4]

Hospitals are seeing an increase in respiratory failure due to this new method of laced marijuana. Multiple case studies show the immediate effects “wet marijuana” can have from smoking the substance. 

You might be wondering why people would be doing this odd and incredibly dangerous method of smoking, but apparently, it makes the substances burn more slowly, resulting in a longer high. But for a longer high, the significant side effects from this exposure include bronchitis, brain damage, lung damage and body tissue destruction. Users also experience hallucinations and become paranoid. 

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde can be created in our environment naturally through the combustion of certain products like forest fires, cigarette smoke, and automobile combustion; but the overall levels in our air is very low. Formaldehyde is used in a variety of different products, mainly used in the textile industry, but once again the levels are safe. 

The most common use of Formaldehyde is as an ingredient used in embalming fluid – the chemicals used to temporarily prevent decomposition and restore a natural appearance for viewing a body after death. Embalming solution is usually a combination of formaldehyde, methanol, phenol, glutaraldehyde, ethanol, and water, and may also contain dyes in order to simulate a life-like skin-tone [1]  The purpose of formaldehyde in embalming fluid is to help keep the body’s tissues stiff, allowing the mortician to pose the body.

Formaldehyde is featured on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the top 10 most hazardous chemicals for damaging the environment.[2] If a chemical is bad for the environment, it is safe to assume it is harmful to the human body as well. Formaldehyde is carcinogenic which can lead to cancer and a variety of other diseases. 

While it is possible for formaldehyde to be airborne, levels in the air are generally extremely low. Breathing in Formaldehyde should be avoided whenever possible as exposure to high levels can trigger: [3]

  • asthma attacks
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • respiratory irritation
  • watery and/or burning eyes
  • sensitization
  • difficulty breathing

Smoking formaldehyde can drastically exacerbate these symptoms. 


Citations

  1. https://www.everplans.com/articles/the-embalming-process-explicit
  2. Chiappelli, Jeremiah; Chiappelli, Ted (2008). “Drinking Grandma: The Problem of Embalming”. Journal of Environmental Health (71).
  3. http://www.formaldehydetesting.com/whatisformaldehyde.html
  4. https://www.wfla.com/news/polk-county/dangerous-drug-wet-showing-up-in-tampa-bay-area/

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