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Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 08/24/2007 09:21:58 AM PDT
Martin Cotton II had a potentially lethal dose of LSD in his system when he died in custody on Aug. 9, according to a toxicology report released Thursday.
Toxicology tests done by Central Valley Toxicology in Fresno show Cotton had 10.6 nanograms of LSD per milliliter of blood in his system, 10 times what is considered potentially toxic and twice what is considered potentially fatal, according to Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager.
The official cause of death will be determined by Ken Falconer, the doctor who performed Cotton's autopsy, and it will probably be released next week, Jager said.
”Since I've been coroner here, I've never seen someone overdose on LSD, so this is pretty unusual, if that's what it is,” Jager said. “It's just not very common. I don't know how he got that much in his system.”
Craig Hill, senior program manager for Mental Health Branch Dual Recovery Programs, said LSD is rare in Humboldt County, and overdoses are exceptionally rare anywhere.
”There's been possibly eight cases of overdose ever, and all of those are controversial at best,” Hill said, but added that he'd never heard of a dose as high as the one reportedly in Cotton's system. “Just about everything we know about LSD goes out the window because of how much he had on board.”
Cotton died in custody just hours after being involved in several altercations in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission, including one with Eureka police officers. From many accounts, Cotton was agitated and combative from the moment he arrived at the mission.
The Eureka Police Department was criticized by some in the ensuing weeks for not taking Cotton directly to the hospital after the altercation. Some have also alleged that officers on the scene used excessive force.
In a statement released Thursday, Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen said while Cotton's death was tragic, the toxicology report reaffirms his view that his officers acted appropriately given the situation.
”In this particular case, Mr. Cotton was so highly impaired and his actions so violent that it was impossible for law enforcement to subdue him peacefully,” Nielsen said in the statement.
If averaging the low and high values above, the value obtained is ~41 mg/ kg of body weight. Since this is an IV value (& assuming people respond like rodents)an oral LD50 would likely be in excess of 80 mg/kg (Meaning it would take just over 5 grams for someone of my body weight).
Even taking the lowest figure (16 mg/kg) we still wind up with an LD50 of more than a gram of acid for a 65 kg human; even if using the IV figure as an oral one!
Wow, he took one hell of a dose, 50 000 times the normal dose. But they aren't talking about lethal dose, they might mean something less by 'potentially lethal'. Or it is bad terminology. What a chaos it might've been, it might've been a bitch to die under such a insane dose, if he had much consciousness left.
:: sigh :: Why would anyone accept the coroner's claims without checking the numbers? First off, 10.6 ng/mL of blood equates to:
(10.6 ng) x (5,000 mL) = 53,000 ng = 53 mcg total LSD found in Cotton's blood at the time of his death.
1,000 ng = 1 mcg
1,000 mcg = 1 mg
1,000 mL = 1 L
5L = 5,000 mL = approximate volume of blood in the human body
This is about half a recreational dose.
However, it is important to bear in mind that this was what remained after his body had metabolized a particular dose taken at an unknown time. The half-life of LSD is (like the LD50) also debatable in psychopharmacological circles, but most research puts the range at anywhere between 2.5 and 5 hours.
Thus, if one were to err on the conservative side, i.e., attempt to lend credence to the coroner's assertations, we could use the 2.5 hour figure and assume the LSD was ingested 12 hours before death (although the probability is that the time between ingestion and death was significantly shorter).
(271.4 ng) x (5,000 mL) = 1,356,800 ng = 1,356.8 mcg = 1.4 mg
As you can see, this is far below any projected LD50 out there. Keep in mind, these calculations were done using figures that, as devil's advocate so to speak, would maximize the estimated dose. It is probable that Cotton ingested much less than 1.4 mg.
The coroner, in his attempt to deceive the public and divert their attention away from the possibility that Cotton was murdered by the police, has not only relabeled a typical reacreational dose of LSD and called it a "toxic dose," but has also taken it upon himself to establish the LD50 of LSD at about 700 mcg. I leave it to you to judge the credibility of this figure.
Between Felonious Skunk's math, and the article below, I'm inclined to be suspicious:
Question linger about LSD and jailed man's death
Thadeus Greenson and John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 08/29/2007 04:30:16 AM PDT
The details of Martin Cotton II's death shortly after his incarceration on Aug. 9 make the case exceptional, especially in light of the fact that it is almost impossible to overdose on the only drug found in his system.
While the official cause of death has not been determined, the doctor who performed the autopsy initially did not believe his death was from injuries sustained during an intense battle with police roughly two hours before. A toxicology test turned up something extremely unusual: Cotton had a large, but not unheard of, concentration of LSD in his blood at the time of his death.
So far, the limited information released by authorities has raised more questions than it has answered.
Cotton had been held in the Humboldt County Jail for seven days on an outstanding warrant from Siskiyou County before his Aug. 9 release. Cotton was released at about 2:30 p.m., before reportedly showing up at the Eureka Rescue Mission shortly before 5 p.m., where he was involved in three separate physical altercations, the last with officers of the Eureka Police Department.
From all accounts, Cotton's tangle with the police was violent, and officers used pepper spray, batons, kicks and punches to subdue him.
Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager said after Cotton's autopsy that physical injuries to Cotton's body were extensive, but were not believed to be the cause of death. Some have alleged the police used excessive force, but Police Chief Garr Nielsen has been adamant that his officers acted appropriately when confronted with a violent, non-compliant suspect.
Cotton was booked into the Humboldt County Jail at about 5:15 p.m., and died shortly after 7 p.m. in the hospital, after a correctional officer noticed his breathing was shallow and called medical personnel.
At a town hall meeting held Aug. 16, Nielsen said Cotton's death might have been caused by his banging his head against the floor of his jail cell after booking. In a later interview with the Times-Standard, Nielsen said he hadn't seen video of Cotton in jail, but had been told of it by Jager and an investigator from the district attorney's office.
A Public Records Act request for the jail video by the Times-Standard was officially denied Monday by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which cited security concerns and the fact that the investigation into Cotton's death is ongoing. However, Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp said the sobering cell that held Cotton was equipped with padded floors, walls and dividers, making the report that Cotton died from injuries sustained while banging his head against the cell floor seem improbable.
If a fatal overdose of LSD was behind Cotton's death, it would only be the second ever. LSD is nearly non-toxic, and in fact only a handful of overdoses have ever been recorded. People with far higher blood concentrations of the drug have survived with prompt medical care.
”You can't, practically speaking, kill yourself with LSD,” said Dr. Reese Jones, professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco.
Nor do people on a heavy LSD trip typically become combative, Jones said. Cotton's initial altercations with others at the Eureka Rescue Mission would be unusual, and his struggle against the police when they were called to the scene more indicative of a subject on methamphetamine or PCP, far more common street drugs.
LSD's effects are almost exclusively on the brain, said Jones, who has lengthy experience researching LSD. Very few other physiological effects are seen, he said, unlike stimulant drugs under which people often become violent and seemingly superhuman in strength.
One of the few recorded cases of LSD overdose occurred in 1972, when four men and four women snorted powdered LSD at a dinner party, thinking it was cocaine. Some 15 minutes later, they were admitted to a San Francisco hospital. Five were already in a coma when they arrived. Three of them were experiencing depressed respiration, leading doctors to perform endotracheal intubation -- in which a tube is slid through the mouth into the trachea to assist breathing.
Tests found between a low of 2.1 to a high of 26 nanograms per milliliter of blood in the eight patients, all of whom survived.
A correctional officer noticed Cotton's breathing was shallow shortly after he was jailed, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, and medical personnel were called. They began resuscitation and then took Cotton to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Cotton's blood had concentrations of 10.6 ng/ml at the time of his death, perhaps three to four hours after he took the drug, using his release to determine the time of ingestion. Since there have been so few deaths, the lethal dose of LSD has only been projected at .2 milligrams per kilogram to 1 mg/kg, or between 14 to 70 milligrams for a 155-pound person.
Jager was not immediately available for comment to give Cotton's exact weight.
While the analysis of LSD levels is tricky, a comparison to experiments in which a 35-year-old man was administered 600 micrograms of LSD -- and was found to have 1 ng/ml concentrated in his blood four hours after ingestion-- suggests that Cotton would have had to have taken more than 6,000 micrograms, or 6 mg, of LSD to produce his result.
That's between 60 and 200 hits of LSD, given the typical street dosage administered on blotter paper, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement. That much LSD could cost $120 to $2,000, according to values calculated by the DEA. LSD does come in liquid or powder form, although it's much more rare.
Either way, Cotton had to get his hands on a large amount of LSD. It's not impossible given time. But it is made far more unlikely by the fact that Cotton apparently acquired the drug within the two hours between his release after two weeks in jail, especially since it's not one of the more readily accessible drugs locally.
It's also rarely seen in treatment centers, said Craig Hill, senior program manager for Mental Health Branch Dual Recovery Programs.
”It's just not coming up,” Hill said.
Could Cotton have mistaken LSD for some other drug, as in the 1972 case? Yes, but unless he had his own stash, whoever he bought the LSD from would have sold him the huge amount of LSD at the much lower price of methamphetamine or cocaine in the same quantity.
One other man, in Kentucky in 1977, may have died from an LSD overdose when he mistakenly injected 320 mg of the drug, thinking it was speed. There were no obvious signs of drug use during Cotton's autopsy, according to Jager.
Dr. John Lamb, who works in Sacramento for Poison Action Line, said the general LSD-related death doesn't have to do with toxicology.
”The typical LSD death, if there is going to be one, is trauma,” Lamb said in a phone interview Monday. “It's not the drug itself, it's the trauma resulting from the hallucinations.”
An official cause of death is expected to be issued soon.
”You can't, practically speaking, kill yourself with LSD,” said Dr. Reese Jones, professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco.
^ On a lighter note, this comment is hilarious for a very good reason - the chairman of psychiatry at University of California in Los Angeles once killed an elephant by overdosing it with LSD.
I had read an autobiography called An Unquiet Mind which was written by a professor of psychiatry who suffers from bipolar disorder. At one point in her career she was based in UCLA, and she got to know the elephant overdosing psychiatrist.
Apparently the reason that the elephant OD'd is because they based the LSD dose on body mass. They thought, "If an average human weighing about 80 kilograms needs about 200 micrograms to trip, hell just an elephants tusk weighs that much! So the elephant must need way more LSD to trip, let's give him 300 milligrams. WE R JENIUS!"
What they figured out later is that LSD doesn't work by affecting body tissue. It works by affecting the central nervous system. And elephants have far fewer neurons than a human does, so in fact the elephant should have gotten a lower dose of LSD. To call his overdose "massive" is such an understatement that it tears apart the fabric of space and time (that's the quiet ripping noise that you just noticed. Sorry for destroying the universe, my bad!).
On a side note, after googling around to piece back together the details of the story above (I have a terrible memory), I googled the name of the study where the elephant overdosed:
"Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: Its Effects on a Male Asiatic Elephant"
Looksee which website ranks as the second result. Second only to Harvard no less!
edit: for additional lulz, check out the conclusion found at the end of the study:
"It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD - a finding which may prove to be valuable in elephant-control work in Africa."
(last paragraph, page 3)
Elephants in Africa must be rejoicing! Hooray for Don Quixote style scientific research!
SWIM looked over at me and said Holy Crap thats insanity, he quickly told me he had never heard of anyone ever overdosing on LSD, but let me know that the dosage is very small and its very easy to mis dose if you don't know what your doing
always be safe and know what your doing when your playing with your life
The highest OOOPS! dose of LSD Bongo ever encountered was a 13 year old nitwit of a kid. It was back in the day when people actually knew how many micrograms were in what and how pure it was. Nitwit stole some very powerful material, and when he knew he was caught - he ate it. It was 24,000mcgs. That's 24 milligrams.
He was found later crawling slowing across lawns in a suburb of Washington, D.C. He was repeating a semi-word over and over: "Pleck-Lee-Eck-Lee-Um." He later related that he believed himself to be a slug (like escargot) who was leaving his entrails behind himself as he squished his way to........he ended up in a hospital.
He was back to his stupid self in a few days. Though he had some questions he had to answer.