"Levamicoke": The Latest Collateral Damage in the War on Drugs

Monday, November 29, 2010

UPDATE:  Please visit Levamicoke.info for news on levamisole-tainted cocaine and developments in efforts to protect public health from its dangers.  And thanks, Levamicoke.info, for the catchy blog post title!


In a previous post, we mentioned Stranger reporter Brendan Kiley's groundbreaking piece on levamisole, a chemical used to deworm livestock, showing up as a cutting agent in the U.S. cocaine supply.

Brendan's continuing coverage includes a second feature article tracing the roots and evolution of the world's cocaine market, and a third describing the testing kit distributed on the streets of Seattle earlier this month to let cocaine users know if their product is contaminated with levamisole.

The danger levamisole poses to humans is the possibility of developing agranulocytosis - basically, an immune system crash.  Agranulocytosis is relatively easy to treat when caught early; it can be - and has been - fatal when not.

Preliminary results of the postcard survey accompanying the test kits suggest 85% of Seattle's cocaine supply is tainted with levamisole.

Prohibition led to "bathtub gin," and death and blindness resulting from people drinking denatured alcohol sold to them by unscrupulous bootleggers.  By pushing cocaine into the uncontrolled black market, the War on Drugs similarly compromises the public welfare by treating drug use as a criminal, moral problem rather than a health issue.

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