BB reader Brian Corcoran says,
VBS.TV recently did a story on Scopolamine, a substance commonly referred to as "Devils Breath" in Colombia, where it is a common street drug.Video Link to VBS.tv story, which documents contributor Ryan Duffy's scopolamine investigation in 9 parts (Flash 9 required). Here's a CNN followup piece.
This stuff is as close to pure evil as it gets, a tiny amount of the powder administered to the victim causes one of two effects, a) death, or b) complete loss of free will. Criminals are usually hoping for the latter, as it enables them to tell victims to empty their bank accounts, give away their car, perform sex acts, basically whatever the criminal dictates.
This is where Scopolamine has got its reputation as the "zombie drug", victims appear completely sober and rational, but they're really just automatons.
I'm more familiar with the non-street variety of scopolamine used in much smaller doses as a anti-motion sickness remedy, by prescription in the USA. It's half of a legal drug cocktail known as "ScopeDex" (Scopolamine + Dexedrine), sometimes taken by astronauts and those in training to prevent nausea and vomiting in altered gravity environments (for instance, on "vomit comet" flights). When I flew on an inaugural Zero-G flight for press and celebs a few years ago, ScopeDex was recommended as one way to avoid puking during the flight. I didn't take it, because anything that comes from jimson weed (and other datura relatives) has gotta be evil in my book. But others who've done zero gravity flights (with NASA and otherwise) teased me for passing it up, and joked that scopedex was like a "legal speedball," not to be missed.
Scopolamine recently popped up in the news as a treatment for bipolar disorder and depression: Link. The drug also has history as a sort of truth serum administered in interrogation environments -- it was used by the CIA in the 1960s, during the MKULTRA program. Woohoo, good times!
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.