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Monday
Oct252010

Georgetown Students Arrested for Manufacturing Illegal Drug in Dorm Room

Photo Courtesty - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Police in Washington, D.C. arrested three men at Georgetown University over the weekend and charged them with illegally manufacturing a controlled substance after authorities say they discovered a drug, later determined to be dimethyltryptamine (DMT), was being manufactured in a dorm room.

The men, two students and a guest, were arraigned Monday.  A police spokeswoman said police were directed to a certain room on the ninth floor of Harbin Hall after a student reported a strange odor.  Seven people, including several students, were treated for possible effects from exposure to chemicals, but no one was hospitalized.

In an e-mail, Greg Olson, Georgetown's vice president of student affairs, told parents that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had confirmed that DMT was being made in the dorm room.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, DMT is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that is typically smoked, sniffed or injected.  It's found naturally in plants and seeds but can also be manufactured synthetically.  It's also found in very small amounts in the brains of most mammals, including humans.

It acts by increasing the brain's level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences moods.  DMT produces what's called the "businessman's trip" -- a high that lasts for about an hour.

"Serotonin is thought to be the target of a lot of hallucinogens, like LSD, MDMA [ecstasy], PCP and others," said Glen Hanson, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Utah and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

DMT is not very addicting, unlike drugs like methamphetamine.  It's also relatively easy to manufacture, according to the DEA.

In addition to the psychedelic high, the drug can have serious physiological consequences, including high blood pressure, agitation, seizures and dizziness, according to the DEA.  In very high doses, it can bring on a coma and respiratory arrest.

Regarding long-term use, experts also said there wasn't much research about how harmful long-term use can be, but Hanson suspected it could take its toll on the brain after a while.

DEA statistics show that between January and June of 2009, law enforcement officials seized 72 items that were later identified as DMT.  In 2008, they seized 94 such items, up from 59 in 2007.

DMT is an illegal substance and is considered a schedule one drug, meaning that it's not approved for medical use.

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