It may surprise you to learn that common citrus trees like oranges and lemons are actually Schedule I substances, in the same legal category as heroin. I know it sounds absurd, but it is absolutely true. Recent analysis published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Servillo et al. 2013) found that several citrus plants, including lemons and oranges, contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (bufotenine). Both of these compounds are powerful hallucinogens and are designated as Schedule I substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act in the United States. Under that same law, “any material” containing “any quantity” of a Schedule I drug is itself legally equivalent to that drug.
The upshot of this is that domestic citrus producers are in fact operating a massive drug manufacturing enterprise, legally speaking. And the scale of this manufacture is not trivial. Let’s estimate 150 orange trees per acre, and conservatively suppose that each tree contains one kilogram of leaves. Then in the state of Florida alone, where approximately 550,000 acres are under cultivation, the crop would contain somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 kilograms of bufotenine — roughly 5 million doses — and 5 kilograms of DMT — roughly 150,000 doses. But that’s not all! Since the entire mass of any material containing these substances is legally equivalent to the pure substance, the entire biomass of the groves would be treated as pure DMT or pure bufotenine if the growers were charged with manufacturing a controlled substance.
You might wonder why I am characterizing an entire branch of agriculture as a massive drug manufacturing operation. That characterization, however, is not mine. Under federal law, they are a massive drug manufacturing operation. I am merely drawing attention to the issue.
Regardless of how you feel about the war on drugs, this issue should cause you serious concern. The Controlled Substances Act is written in a way that makes all sorts of mundane materials illegal. It’s not just orange trees; depending on where you live, there is a reasonable chance that the grass in your lawn contains Schedule I substances. In fact, so many materials contain detectable quantities of controlled substances that nearly everyone is breaking the law all the time.
Ironically, the best defense is to remain assiduously ignorant. The Controlled Substances Act defines crimes of intent. That means that as long as you are not aware that orange trees (or certain grasses, or many common pets) contain controlled substances, then you cannot be guilty of intending to possess, manufacture, or distribute those controlled substances. Once you take the effort to become informed about the ubiquity of controlled substances in the world around you, it becomes nearly impossible to avoid crossing the line into criminal behavior.
By Morris Crowley on Friday, 13 June 2014,
Technically speaking, this appears possible, but without a shit load of patience, access to an orange grove and its trimmings, and a firm understanding of column chromatography, there is no reason to get all excited over this article. But it is quite interesting and can potentially serve as a good example in a legal defense.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.