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Toxic cocaine now making its way to north Ontario

Previously detected in major southern urban centres, medical staff in Sudbury, in northern Ontario, are seeing more cases of complications for people using  cocaine which is being laced with a toxic chemical.  Doctors, other medical officials, and social workers are sounding the alarm about the effects of cocaine cut with the drug “levamisole”.

Originally used in the 1970s for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, use of levamisole was expanded in the 90’s to include colon-cancer treatment. However in 2000, the drug was withdrawn from human treatments in the US due to adverse complications, and in Canada it was withdrawn in 2003.

Levamisole is currently used in veterinary medicine to rid animals of parasitic worms (helminths ).

A relatively low-cost drug, its other advantage is that it is a white powder and very hard to notice in cocaine. It’s used to increase the volume of cocaine and therefore profits of dealers,

While it is helpful to treat animals, it’s toxic to humans. It causes skin cells to die resulting in severe skin conditions. It also kills the body’s white blood cells and damages the immune system leaving the person open to serious infections.

When contacted by the press, the Ontario Provincial Police were apparently unaware of “levamisole” in cocaine although Carole Dionne, spokesperson for the the OPP commented that cocaine is often cut with a wide variety of other chemicals.

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Skin necrosis caused by use of cocaine laced with levamisole. © dermatlas.med.jhmi.edu

Brazil is a known exporter of cocaine, much of it to North America.  In the past, illegal drugs were shipped out of the originating country in relatively pure state, and usually cut with other products at their destination.  However , last year police in Brazil reported that analysis of various shipments of seized cocaine destined for export showed the shipments contained about 11% levamisole,  They also found however that there was 38% ratio of Phenacetin.

Phenacitin is an antithermic and anesthetic that has been banned in the UK since the 1960s, after it was linked to kidney and bladder cancers. Phenacetin has also been linked to the dissolution of blood cells and necrosis of the kidneys.   In Canada, Phenacetin was withdrawn from the market in 1973 and is prohibited under the Food and Drug Act

Police agencies in the US meanwhile are reporting that their testing of seized drugs shows concentrations of levamisole in cocaine have been steadily increasing since it was first detected a decade ago.

 

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43 comments on “Toxic cocaine now making its way to north Ontario
  1. Giselle says:

    I think it’s ridiculous how ppl keep saying any drug is good … why would anyone even need a drug??? Drugs support crime… drugs kill… there is not one good thing to be said about drugs and yes I’m including marihuana in that statement ! Ppl r morons if they think being high is better than being normal!

  2. Calv says:

    The harder the drug, the better the odds that it was up someone’s azz at some point.

  3. CJ says:

    Not to burst anyone’s bubble but over the years alot of things have been laced or slipped into things such as Rufilin and Depressants in alcohol but no body seems to be concerned about it or all the deaths that are caused by alcohol abuse including overdose,domestic abuse, car wrecks I bet there’s not one single person that isn’t related or good friends with somebody that has been injured or killed in alcohol related car wrecks or incidents, but how many could say the same about Marihuanna very few if any, but because our government says one is illegal and the other isn’t they make Marihuanna out to be worse then Alcohol which is complete BS let the facts and proof show you the truth if you have any common sense at all. I like to know how many calls the police get in Canada on any given weekend for alcohol related incidents and deaths in family homes alone but never nothing mentioned about it being made “illegal” cause the government says its alright. But lord behold if somebody gets caught with a joint he’s a bad ass criminal cause the government says he is. Same as i’ve always said put a 40oz or liquor in front of 3 or 4 guys and come back in a few hours they would be arguing and fighting and trying to kill one another give the same guys instead a handful of joints and they would be still sitting back laughing and stuffing their face with food in an hour but alcohol is ok and Marihuanna is bad cause the government says it is and as far as weed being a starter drug thats another crock because ask 10 people what the very first thing they have ever taken to give them a buzz Im sure 9 outta 10 will say they drank liquor first in their life.And far as I’m concerned 99% of our Marihuanna laws are just because some people are too ignorant and bullheaded to acknowledge that alcohol is worse then weed and more addictive too so if one is illegal the other definetly should be.

    • Jo Turer says:

      I agree, however it is spelt Marijuana and there are many people who function better on Marijuana then they do Alcohol. However, I am against the usage of both but I am against Alcohol more. They should ban Alcohol on planes, I mean after all you’re not allowed to smoke Cigarettes on Flights, as people are afraid of Second Hand smoke, but drink , get off your your flight, drive to your
      Destination you may take out a few cars and people.

    • 1wickedkriket says:

      I totally agree with your point. However, to many, not to all, but to many, Marajuana is addictive. It all depends on the amount u use and in how much time. I agree that they would be extremely mellowed out and have extreme munchies.

  4. aron says:

    Did you check Rob Ford if he has these side effects?

  5. Danika Jensen says:

    That’s why I will not try those hard core drugs, not even once. It can be cut with anything.

  6. Dr Dave says:

    Love how people assume marijuana is awful, when you have been fed prescribed medicine (much like the drug added to the cocaine) for years, which is completely chemical.

  7. Yasser says:

    Decriminalize drugs, legalize pot, and bam problem solve, it’ll solve more than just lacing problems, it’ll probably save up to 1000 lives a year. Drugs aren’t the reason of harm being done, well addictive ones are, but NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE EXTENT OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO DO FOR THE MONEY BEHIND THE DRUGS! More people die from DRUG RELATED violence than the drug itself. Marijuana has NEVER killed someone, but the people behind the money have.

  8. Robert Harrison says:

    This is why drugs should be legal and controlled by regulatory public bodies.

  9. Megan says:

    People are neieve to think that weed can’t be laced with this or any other potential harmful drug like the above mentioned!!!!

    Scary to think that people are willing to take the risk with ANY drug that could potentially kill them… It all starts with self respect !!! People who cares about themselves would not put themselves in harms way …

    • truthhurts says:

      Cannabis is the safest “drug” out there….if allowed to legalize it would be in the pure flower form, not ground up which could contain various chemicals….the thing is people who have no real experience with the plant tend to hold onto false information. Just like food we all want organic, highly mineralized food but what we get is chemically laden processed junk or industrialzed garbage that provide little nutrition…..

      • Shane Bee says:

        Its a shame that media and the greediness of cocaine dealers have to taint the view of medical marijuana in peoples minds like Megan here.

        • Carly says:

          Not sure how laced cocaine is relevant to medical pot. . pretty sure this article was an FYI to the coke users, to suggest they need to use dealer discretion. its not necessarily a direct index finger being pointed at the habit itself, more like a warning that you could end up with a flesh eating disease because there is too much greed in the coke biz. coke comes from a continent away. dope comes from your neighbours backyard.

    • Keith says:

      No, see they leave it with cocaine because it’s a WHITE POWDER! Lacing a GREEN intact dried out flower with white powder would make no sense.
      And marijuana is not lethal at any reachable level.

    • mark says:

      There is no real benefit to lacing weed with anything. It is not the same industry as powder/pill drugs in which chemical addiction plays a huge role in business, and 0.1 of a gram has a financial impact. Any amount of added “laced” powder that could increase the bud’s weight significantly enough to impact profit even by pennies would be so noticeable that it would never work.

      • ragged_edge says:

        that’s not true. cannabis is also laced with pharmaceuticals … it is a way to improve the ‘punch’ of poor (or wild) cannabis … it quite prevalent in Australia, and, I imagine, in the Southwest US, where poor Mexican weed needs all the help it can get …

        any drug can be (and is) laced with whatever anyone in the long chain of hands can think of … Canadian hash has been laced with shoe polish …

    • Jesse says:

      I suppose you don’t consider the fact that half the food people eat is full of unknowns as well that people simply trust is safe.

  10. Carol Perry says:

    This world is a scary place. Are people so desperate that they will do anything to get a high? Young people should be warned! Public warnings should be made.

  11. vicki aka queen share says:

    Someone who is addicted does not mean they are lowlife. Help is out there for addiction, narrowmindness is more difficult to help with.

  12. Jesse Church says:

    Sometimes I find this stuff hard to believe. Why would drug dealers even spend the money on putting another drug into the stuff? There must be other things you can put in instead… corn starch? dextrose? even flour? And they would have to steal it from a vet’s office to get it in the first place. The journalist’s links with it coming from Brazil seems very far-fetched. Testing for Levamisole in the blood is challenging due to its short half-life, so for the sourced “medical staff” would likely have had to test the cocaine itself brought in by the patient. Not convinced tainted cocaine is the cause.

    • Roxanne says:

      It’s been reported in Calgary, Halifax and I’ve seen it in Moncton. Of course, women end up being more likely to have reactions. It only affects 20% of people who are exposed. So someone not developing these conditions is not proof that their coke is pure, it could just mean that they have a higher immune system to handle it.

    • veronica says:

      They use it because it is cheap and traditional methods used to detect and remove adultarants don’t easily detect it. In short it is easy to sneak into the product for cheap and not get caught until the user is already very sick. As long as the war on drugs continues the illicit products are only going to get worse.

    • Christa says:

      You did see the part where they said they found it by testing seized cocaine right???

    • Kyle Mack says:

      If you want, humor me and check up on how many public warnings related to marijuana there have been in the past 110 years. For cocaine, check for the last 140 years. Depending on which “issue” you are referring to, you might get a different time frame as well as varying degrees and frequency of public warnings against both currently illegal drugs.

    • Meg says:

      Jesse, I work in a drug addiction clinic and we regularily send out urine samples to our lab to have them tested even more thoroughly than we can on site. Every single person who is cocaine positive comes back with Levamisole in their system as well. As in the article, Levamisole is a relatively cheap drug- that is IF they even pay for it. And don’t think that the dealer is the one stealing it etc…he has cronies just like in the movies. lol
      Also, it definitly benefits them to cut cocaine with other drugs as they can make more money by increasing the volume. Something sugary would be too noticable to the palate and corn startch and flour are not the same consistency. They dont want the people buying to know they are ripping them off!! I have yet to see anyone with damage as shown above, but we definitly warn them that they are getting hosed!

  13. tamara says:

    that looks like it really hurts

  14. Den says:

    Krokodil does have cocaine in it and it does do the same as this, and you only live 2 yrs when using this……most addictive drug

    • Ryan says:

      Hahaha krokodil has absolutely zero cocaine in it.
      Cocaine is a stimulant from the coca plant and krokodil is crudely synthesized desomorphine, a semisynthetic opitate synthesized from codeine

  15. Dave says:

    It’s called LEVAMISOLE not LEVASIMOLE. Furthermore you say;
    “A relatively low-cost drug, its other advantage is that it is a white powder and very hard to notice in cocaine. It’s used to increase the volume of cocaine and therefore profits of dealers.”
    Then you go on to say;
    “However , last year police in Brazil reported that analysis of various shipments of seized cocaine destined for export showed the shipments contained about 11% levasimole.”
    Obviously, this is a tactic to benefit the producers and distributors of the product, and not the end dealer.
    As well, Levamisole is not a bulking agent, as it has almost the exact same density as cocaine. Rather it passes standard cocaine purity street tests (i.e. the bleach test(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603736/) As well, it is generally thought that it may potentiate the effects of cocaine in the human body when metabolized by the liver. This is due to the evidence that Levamisole is metabolized in an Equines liver to produce a stimulant. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19298880)

    Lastly, it would be good to properly inform the general public of the condition that this tainted drug causes, which is called Agranulocytosis.

  16. Guy Sanders says:

    believe it or not, theres a lot of otherwise good people who indulge in these behaviours however this report is nothing new, reports of levamisole like this in Canada have been circulating for years. from my understanding it is repeated ingestion that eventually does damage as shown above but it will have a mild lasting effect on a one time user that can easily be mistaken for a hangover/comedown. powder drugs are bad people/if you must indulge in escapism, smoke weed instead #endrant

  17. Tobias says:

    Wow Chris – Only a narrow minded individual would ever say such a thing – don’t forget the first victims of substance abuse are our youth – and the substance that they abuse does’t care what social status they are on the preset ridiculous social ladder that we all seem to hang onto. I only hope one day you aren’t faced with falling down a few rungs on your own status defined ladder. Good luck with raising your kids or your grand kids… They will prove you wrong with who is the A-Typical target for drugs.

  18. Sandy Heldt says:

    There is another cocaine based drug called Krokodill that also does horrendous damage. Scary!

    • Alexis says:

      Krokodil is not cocaine based. It’s codeine mixed with house hold chemicals and sold as heroin.

    • Ryan says:

      Krokodil is not cocaine based. It is cooked up using house hold chemicals in gasoline that is boiled down to a goop then injected. The poor mans heroin that came from russia.

    • James Redding says:

      Krokodil is a codeine based drug, very dangerous and destructive, but it contains no cocaine.

    • misinformed says:

      not cocaine based…for heroin users that cant afford heroin or dont know what theyre getting

    • Tarra says:

      Krokodil (desomorphine) is a morphine derivative, not a “cocaine based drug”.

    • Leah says:

      Krokodil is used as a cheap substitute for heroin, not cocaine.

    • KayeVivica says:

      its not cocaine bases, its a heroin substatute that was created in Russia 3 or 4 years ago.

      • LP says:

        Krokodil was actually patented in the 30s, and used for nausea and depression in switzerland in the past. Not that that makes it a good idea to use, but most banned or illegal drugs have been around for alot of years created with good medicinal intentions and banned due to side effects.

        As for why use drugs to cut drugs like cocaine, supposedly people can “taste”, “smell”, or see the difference alot of things make when added to it. It also makes it much more addictive.

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