Scopolamine in Small Doses Causes Submissive Behavior, While in Larger Doses Causes Almost Instantaneous Unconsciousness, Followed by Complete Anterograde Amnesia
Digital Journal - What would it take to be considered the world's scariest drug? A documentary that has gone viral in two days has a suggestion –– it’s one that criminals use to erase your memory and renders you incapable of exercising your free will.
The drug, called scopolamine, also known as ‘The Devil’s Breath,' is derived from a particular type of tree common in Colombia called the Borrachero tree. The word "borrachero," which roughly translates to "get-you-drunk," grows wild in Bogota,Colombia. This tree which naturally produces scopolamine is so famous in the countryside that mothers warn their children not to fall asleep below its cunningly beautiful yellow and white flowers. "We probably should put some sort of fence up," jokes biologist Gustavo Morales at Bogota's botanical gardens to Reuters, eyeing children playing with borrachero seeds everywhere. The pollen alone is said to conjure up strange dreams. And when extracted and made into a colorless, odorless and tasteless powder, scopolamine does more than induce strange dreams.
Quickly dissolved in liquids, criminals slip the powder into drinks or sprinkle it on food. Reuters states that victims become so docile that they have been known to help thieves rob their homes and empty their bank accounts. Women have been drugged repeatedly over days and gang-raped or rented out as prostitutes.
It was stories like these that initially made VICE News Correspondent Ryan Duffy pretty excited to travel to Bogota, Colombia. "I had only a vague understanding of [scopolamine], but the idea of a substance that renders a person incapable of exercising free-will seemed liked a recipe for hilarity and the YouTube hall of fame," Duffy writes.
And why Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to most rural areas of Colombia. The Government of Canada warns that if traveling to Colombia to avoid going to bars alone. Never leave your drink or food unattended.
There have been numerous incidents of drugs being used (including scopolamine) to incapacitate travelers in order to rob them.
Scopolamine can be administered through aerosols, cigarettes, gum, or in powder form. Typically, travelers are approached by someone asking for directions; the drug is concealed in a piece of paper and is blown into the victim's face.
Exercise extreme caution, as scopolamine can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems."
But still some people think the documentary and warnings such as these show a prejudice towards Colombia and Colombians. "It's so sad that people just sees us Colombians as drug dealers and drug consumer [sic] and to say its a fucked up country is very offensive," Youtube user rt987 said Sunday.
"Colombia has very good people and off [sic] course we have problems as every other country. and we are looking forward to have them solved, making people scared of Colombia i [sic] think is pathetic, Colombia is a great place to live, and to visit."
But it's not just the United States or Canada issuing warnings. On its website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia warns all those interested in "traveling to Colombia to be careful with scopolamine, commonly called burundanga that when mixed with a drink, a cigarette or inhaled (for example on paper in the guise of asking for directions), will lose it absolutely."
The drug is used for robberies and kidnappings in local pubs. As the documentary states, Colombia has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world.
It’s like they’re a child
Part of Duffy traveling to Colombia, was to interview those who deal the drug and those who have fallen victim to it. The animated Demencia Black falls in the former category. As the Daily Mail reports, Black, a drug dealer in the capital of Bogota, says that one gram of Scopolamine is similar to a gram of cocaine, but later called it "worse than anthrax."
The program focused on developing covert offensive and defensive techniques to use in the cold war, including developing biological and chemical materials and methods. The transcript of a Joint Senate Hearing investing the program described the experiments as follows:
- Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
- Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception.
- Materials which will cause the victim to age faster/slower in maturity.
- Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
- Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc.
- Materials which will cause temporary/permanent brain damage and loss of memory.
- Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called "brain-washing".
- Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
- Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use.
- Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
- Substances which will produce a chemical that can cause blisters.
- Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
- A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning.
- Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
- Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects.
- A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis.
- A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a person to perform physical activity.