Scopolamine: The Newest Drug Scare
Reuters reports that in Colombia, criminals are using the drug scopolamine to turn crime victims into zombies. Curious that the article doesn't mention that scopolomine has been used by governments against suspected criminals for ages--as a truth serum.
Early in this century physicians began to employ scopolamine, along with morphine and chloroform, to induce a state of "twilight sleep" during childbirth. A constituent of henbane, scopolamine was known to produce sedation and drowsiness, confusion and disorientation, incoordination, and amnesia for events experienced during intoxication. Yet physicians noted that women in twilight sleep answered questions accurately and often volunteered exceedingly candid remarks.
In 1922 it occurred to Robert House, a Dallas, Texas obstetrician, that a similar technique might be employed in the interrogation of suspected criminals, and he arranged to interview under scopolamine two prisoners in the Dallas county jail whose guilt seemed clearly confirmed. Under the drug, both men denied the charges on which they were held; and both, upon trial, were found not guilty. Enthusiastic at this success, House concluded that a patient under the influence of scopolamine "cannot create a lie... and there is no power to think or reason."  His experiment and this conclusion attracted wide attention, and the idea of a "truth" drug was thus launched upon the public consciousness.
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