There's a plant that grows around here, and you can't miss it if you see one in bloom. I never gave them much thought before yesterday. But in the early morning as we Jeeped through the wash on the way to Gitmo, I saw one growing all alone in the sand where no plant more exotic than a tumbleweed had any business being, apparently just as happy as mint in a midwesterner's herb garden. Big splashy white flowers. It was kinda weird.
And I mentioned it later to the guy for whom I'm doing all this raking (Five trailer-loads so far and maybe a little more than half done. I'm too old for this.) He asked me if I hadn't heard of Jimson weed before. Yeah, I'd heard of it but never claimed to be a botanist. He said I was looking at it, also called "Sacred Datura," and then he went off at considerable length about its history among the Indians and its uses as a hallucinogen.
I remembered to look it up this morning, and decided that Indians are crazy.
Ingestion of plant material can induce auditory and visual hallucinations similar to those of Datura stramonium, with the active compounds being concentrated in the seedpods and roots; concentrations vary widely between samples, and onset is slow. This makes dosage estimation a difficult and adds further risk to the administration of material that already has potentially lethal side effects. Scopolamine is the primary active molecule; it is related to atropine, with a similar, largely anticholinergic activity. Effects may include dry mouth, hyperthermia, profuse sweating, drowsiness, lethargy and anteriograde amnesia - along with the before-mentioned hallucinations and sensory distortions. These compounds also induce a profound dilatation of the pupils and suppress eye saccades, resulting in considerable degradation of visual acuity, often to the point of functional blindness. This may persist, to a reduced degree, for days. The combined effect may result a panic state in the user, a particularly dangerous situation in someone temporarily deprived of useful vision; users are prone to serious accidental injury. Scopolamine induces respiratory depression at hallucinogenic doses. The combination of anesthesia (in the hospital) and Datura is usually fatal due to combined respiratory depression. Seizures and fevers as high as 43 C (110°F) have been reported.