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Toad Away: New Highs in the War on Drugs

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Just mark it down as yet another glorious victory in the War on Drugs.

A Kansas City, Missouri man has been arrested and charged with... possessing a toad. More specifically, possession with the intent to get high from the toad's venom.

When police raided a Kansas City-area home in November on suspicions that drugs were being manufactured there, they arrested David S. Theiss -- and his toad. To be precise, his Sonoran Desert toad.

When this breed of toad gets angry or scared, it secrets a venom containing

bufotenin. Bufotenin, when ingested, is a hallucinogen. Thus the federal government, ever vigilant of what we do with our bodies and minds, has outlawed it.

County prosecutor Daniel White was careful to point out that mere possession of a toad -- even a Sonoran Desert toad -- is not, per se, illegal. (After all, this IS a free country!)

But possession with the intent to use its venom to get high *is* illegal. And, since Theiss was charged with several drug offenses -- among them possessing mescaline, a controlled substance extracted from a cactus -- he surely must have owned the toad for sinister reasons.

In such cases, prosecutor White says, the toad is considered "drug paraphernalia" and owners must face the consequences.

Naturally, the Internet is part of the menace. Prosecutor White warns that some Web sites feature instructional videos on how to extract the venom and smoke it.

Theiss was released on bond. However, the toad was kept in custody at a police crime lab. (Somehow, that doesn't seem fair.)

United Press International reports that Theiss "is believed to be the first in the Kansas City area to be charged with toad-licking."

But if vigilant Kansas City Drug Warriors have their way, he will certainly not be the last.

And other Drug Warriors are rising to face the challenge. In late December Bill Graff, the Drug Czar of York County, Pennsylvania, told reporters when quizzed on the topic: "It's no different from mushrooms or LSD. You would have to prove they intended to use them to lick. It would be delivery of a controlled substance, and the package is the frog, I mean the toad."

Now you, gentle reader, may think that arresting people for owning a toad, or smoking toad venom, is stupid and idiotic and laughable, not to mention tyrannical. And judging from the hundreds of mocking news stories around the world that have been written about this case, many people agree.

But... is it any less absurd and tyrannical than arresting people for, say, growing and smoking a common plant -- something I have heard from reliable sources happens quite often in the US of A?

Once America was hailed as "the land of the free," but now we can be hauled off by the cops for owning a toad for non-government-sanctioned purposes. What would Thomas Jefferson say?

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JAMES W. HARRIS has published hundreds of articles in publications including THE NATION, REASON, THE FREEMAN and many more. He is editor of THE LIBERATOR ONLINE, the email newsletter of the Advocates for Self-Government, with over 70,000 (more...)
 
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