Pubdate: Mon, 14 Aug 2006
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2006 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul


High Led To Frightening Stay In Hospital

A teenager who ended up on a respirator in a hospital bed after
getting high on an hallucinogenic plant known as jimson weed is urging
other teenagers not to do what he did.

"I want other kids to realize this is a plant that is not be fooled
around with," Cory Johnson, 16, said yesterday.

"I knew there could be side effects, like hallucinating. I didn't know
it could affect your hearing, your respiration or that it could make
you blind," the chastened teen said.

Last Tuesday, Johnson ate seven bulbs each filled with hundreds of
seeds from an ornamental plant called datura -- also known as devil's
trumpet, devil's apple and jimson weed.

It's a plant that grows a metre or more high, with big trumpet-like
flowers, an intoxicating scent and a reputation for even a few seeds
being a toxic hallucinogen.

Johnson and seven other chums including his girlfriend were trying to
get high on the potent seeds. Johnson said his girlfriend landed in
hospital with him for a day.

Another two chums sought out medical advice after seeing what happened
to him, the boy said.

"I took it Monday and Tuesday and on Tuesday I OD'd. I blacked out and
I woke up strapped to a bed in hospital," Johnson said.

For the next two days Johnson was on a respirator that breathed for
him because he couldn't breath on his own. And he was blind for a day
and a half, he said. He was the only one of the group to become
critically ill.

Datura is a plant with centuries of history, according to entries on
Internet websites that pop up with any browser search.

A member of the nightshade family, datura's poisonous reputation is so
much a part of the world's history that literary greats from the Greek
poet Homer to the Bard himself have written about it.

"People did warn me," Johnson said. He looked up the plant on the
Internet. And Johnson admitted he knew he was chewing way more than he
needed to get high. A few seeds are enough to create a sense of euphoria.

The near brush spooked his mother, too. Debbie Dutka wants the plant
removed anywhere it grows in the city even though she said her son
must shoulder the blame for seeking out the deadly high.
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